Two people trafficking in pangolin scales have been arrested in Yaounde duringa crackdown operation carried out by the Centre Regional Delegation of Forestry and Wildlife and police officers from the 10th police district in Bastos, Yaounde.
During operationthat was carried out with the technical assistance of a nongovernmental organization called LAGA, they were found in possession of 42kg of pangolin scales. This is totally forbidden by the law. The two are specialized traffickers who, for several years, had been trafficking in pangolin scales. They transported the load in a taxi and when one of them realized police was moving in on them, he tried to escape but was chased and rounded up by wildlife officials. The second trafficker profited from the confusion and ran into a nearby hotel but was searched and arrested.
According to sources close to the matter that spoke on condition of anonymity, the two who have been trafficking in pangolin scales from their base at the Nkolndongo neighourhood for several years are popular with bushmeat sellers in the neighbourhood. They activated several smaller poachers and traffickers in Nanga Eboko and villages around the town, where they regularly made trips to buy pangolin scales. Investigations about their illegal activities were started there before moving to Yaounde, the sources said.
The Nkolndongo neighbourhood in Yaounde is fast gaining a reputation as a trafficking hub for pangolins, meat and scales. Those who frequently visit the area, say whole pangolins could be bought alongside scales from bushmeat sellers. Although the pangolins are totally protected species, they are on full display at the neighbourhood that is notoriously difficult for wildlife officials to tackle.
The two were presented to the state counsel and remanded in custody while waiting for their trial which may begin anytime soon. They face up to 3 years in prison and or a fine of up to 10 million CFA francs if found guilty.The arrest and prosecution of pangolin scales traffickers is expected to play a deterrent role in the trafficking of pangolin meat and scales, especially at the Nkolndongo neighbourhood.
Up to nine traffickers have been arrested this year trafficking in pangolin scales in operations carried out under the framework of the collaboration between the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife and LAGA. Intensification of operations are the direct result of improved law enforcement measures under the auspices of the Minister of Forestry and Wildlife, Jules Doret Ndongo, who has been overseeing improvements in performance levels of his staff. This situation is a welcome developmentin conservation in the country.