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Over 150 Elephants Feared Killed 

By Daniel Gwarbarah

Law enforcement agents of the Littoral Regional Delegation for National Security recently arrested three wildlife dealers in Douala for trafficking in a huge consignment of ivory estimated at some 1000 kilogrammes.

Seized Ivories from traffickers

The seized consignment of ivory was reportedly heading for export to the international black market when the dealers were intercepted and arrested. From the quantity of the ivory, it is feared that more than 150 elephants were killed for the deal.

Security officials of the Douala Judicial Police who spoke to The Post, refused to disclose the identities of the three suspects arrested, arguing that the issue is currently under investigation. One of them hinted that the network is seemingly an extensive one with some suspects being highly placed personalities in the country.

The judicial police, The Post gathered, are working hand in hand with the National Control Brigade of the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife while the Last Great Ape Organisation, LAGA, is assisting in the establishment of a case file against the traffickers who are under detention in Douala. Going by Cameroon’s 1994 Wildlife Law, the traffickers risk serving up to three years jail terms and or paying a fine of up to FCFA 10 million if found guilty by the law court.

Illegal ivory trade is today fast becoming an organised international criminal business with well organised crime syndicates such as illicit trade in drugs and arms. Acknowledging, in a release, that illegal ivory trade is deeply rooted in corruption, the Director of LAGA, Ofir Drori, holds that "fighting corruption is necessary therefore to stopping [illegal] ivory trade…" He strongly believes that prosecuting the heads of the criminal ivory trafficking cartels through the effective enforcement of the wildlife law would stamp out the evil practice in Cameroon.

Illegal wildlife trade in many species and their products is today growing by leaps and bounds across the world signaling that wildlife law enforcement operations must be stepped up. It is in this direction that Cameroon’s Minister of Forestry and Wildlife, Elvis Ngolle Ngolle, holds that all the control mechanisms put in place to control wildlife exploitation [in Cameroon] must be applied to the fullest, according to the release.

Experts believe that if the illegal ivory trade is not brought under control soonest, most of Africa may lose the majority of its elephant population in the next decade. Going by estimates of Samuel Wasser and the colleagues (experts in the domain of wildlife), "more than 38 000 African elephants were killed for ivory in 2006 alone. The illegal slaughter of African elephants for ivory is now worse than it was at its peak in the 1980s," the experts hold.

The protection of endangered species including elephants has attracted increasing interest and attention of the international community since the mid 1970s especially following early warnings of their extinction. Despite the increasing attention, "elephants are declining in large numbers everyday due to the booming illicit trade in ivory…If governments in the region do not take urgent measures to combat the illicit trade…they could be extinct within the next 10 years," observed a former senior official of WWF, Martin Tchamba.

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