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Trans-Border Anti-Poaching Squad Created 

By Nformi Sonde Kinsai
 

CameroonPostline.com — Cameroon, the Central Africa Republic, CAR, and Congo (Brazzaville) have put in place a tri-national anti-poaching brigade to fight wildlife criminals in the 7.5 million hectares Sangha Tri-National Sanctuary (TNS) that spans across the borders of the tree countries.
 

The disclosure of the creation of the brigade since July 2011 was made by the Executive Manager of TNS, Dr. Timothée Fometé Nembot, during a recent press conference in Yaounde that marked the end of a board meeting of TNS. “This brigade has already neutralised several trans-border traffickers. But despite this innovative and pioneer initiative in the region, the increasing phenomenon of massive poaching requires a stronger response,” he stated.
 

He said the massive forest of the sanctuary which cuts across the three countries is rich in cultural and exceptional natural biodiversity with huge population of forest elephants, western lowland gorillas and chimpanzees. “But the TNS is under threat from criminals who are sapping these natural resources and creating an atmosphere of insecurity to peace and socio-economic development of the local population and the nations as a whole,” Dr. Fometé told the press.
 

To buttress his point, the TNS Executive Manager talked of the massacre of 26 forest elephants in the Dzanga Bai clearing last May noting that this is just a concrete example of the carnage being inflicted on forest elephants in the Congo Basin Forest Region. “It is incumbent on the states, with the support of their partners to react with all the force in the face of this crisis,” he maintained.
 

He equally disclosed that the Sangha Tri-National Foundation (FTNS) was created in 2007 to specifically fund long term conservation and eco-development within the forest complex by supporting governments and conservation organisations active in the region. It was said as at 2013, 23.5 million Euros has been contributed by the various donors to the project. Dr. Fometé said teething problems of the sanctuary remains insufficient infrastructural and human resources.
 

According to the Board Chair, Laurent Some, the TNS is synonymous to cooperation as the sanctuary is an emanation, in concrete terms, of the 1999 Heads of State international summit on the conservation of the Congo Basin Rainforest that held in Yaounde. He said the Yaounde Declaration that sanctioned the summit called for a stronger collaboration between governments and conservation stakeholders in order to tackle poaching which is now being promoted by international criminal gangs.
 

He reiterated the UN Secretary General’s worries that the activities of the gangs are a serious threat to peace in the sub-region. The UN Scribe, Ban Ki Moon, had in an address to the Security Council recommended that governments mobilise, with the support of the international community, moves to stem poaching in the sub-region. He called on the advocacy of individuals noting that the international community is ready to provide the needed support.
 

The Secretary General in the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife, Denis Koulagna, who represented the Minister, said countries of the Central Africa Sub-region since 1999 took an engagement on issues of the environment going by the Yaounde Declaration. He noted that the Central Africa Forest Commission, COMIFAC, is a result of the 1999 Yaounde Summit. He talked of an accord between Cameroon, CAR and Congo-Brazzaville stating that the three countries must ensure the collegial management of the 4000km2 sanctuary.
 

Koulagna outlined the anti-poaching protocol signed between the three countries, the free circulation of TNS personnel and another protocol on the functioning of the trans-border anti-poaching brigade, the designation in July 2012 of TNS by UNESCO as World Heritage Site as some of the achievements recorded since the year 2000. He, however, said despite the efforts, funding gap remains a big problem as Cameroon cannot withstand the cost of conservation alone.

Responding to a number of questions, Koulagna revealed that within the next five years, some 2000 anti-poaching guns would be procured by the government of Cameroon. He also talked of the reinforcement of the ongoing training of ecoguards at the Military Training Centre in Koutaba, West Region while there are moves to sign an accord with Nigeria for the protection of parks along the border of the two countries.
 

First published in The Post print edition no 01445

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