CAMEROUN :: WILDLIFE TRAFFICKER AT THE BANDJOUN COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE :: CAMEROON
On April 1, 2020, will be held at at the Bandjoun Court of First Instance, the second court hearing of the case against a man arrested last February, in possession of 5 leopard skins. The operation was carried out by wildlife officials of the Koung-Khi Divisional Delegation in collaboration with Bandjoun Gendarmerie Brigade and was technically assisted by the Last Great Ape Organisation - LAGA, a non- governmental organisation. The case opened earlier this month at the court and was adjourned because the accused requested for witnesses to appear in court
The case comes on the heels of other wildlife cases held this month in the Courts of First Instance at Djoum and Mfou. Three people are facing trails for illegal trading in protected wildlife species including ivory and African grey parrots.
The illegal trade in wildlife is sustained by huge demand for wildlife products in Asia. In 2016, more than 4 tons of pangolin scales exported from Cameroon was seized in Hong Kong. A year later, two Chinese were arrested in Douala with 5 tons of pangolin scales prepared to be exported from Cameroon. Recently, on the 5 of March 2020, Chinese customs arrested 12 suspects for smuggling 20.3 tons of products derived from wildlife including geckos. According to Xinhua, a Chinese online news site, the seized wildlife products were trafficked from overseas and then sold to medicinal material markets in the province of Guangdong, Anhui, and Sichuan.
Likewise early this year, Tah Eric, the Deputy Director of LAGA during the celebrations of the Pangolin Day in February declared that “Within the framework of the collaboration with the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife, we have close to 10.000 tons of pangolin scales seized over a period of 6 years in this country”. At a more international level over 1.237.6 tons of endangered species were seized in 2019 according to the data of the General Administration of Customs (GAC) as reported in the Xinhua news site. These are disturbing figures leading conservationists to call for improved law enforcement and court proceedings against wildlife traffickers. They say if we protect our wildlife we are protecting our ecosystems and averting the dangers of deadly new diseases spring up as with case with the current COVID-19 that is spiraling out of control.