Equipping ecoguards in the Dja reserve

by Anonymous (not verified) on

Illegal wildlife trade, estimated to be worth over USD $10 billion annually, is a serious threat to many species around the world, including the endangered species that live in the Dja reserve in Cameroon, such as the forest elephant, western lowland gorilla and chimpanzee.

ZSL works in the Dja Biosphere Reserve (DBR), a conservation area in Cameroon, and has helped the forest guards to increase the number of arrests and prosecutions of poachers in the protected area.

In Cameroon, forest officials must be sworn in each time they are transferred to a new post or jurisdiction. If they are not officially sworn in, their arrests and legal powers are invalid in court, which can lead to suspected poaching trials collapsing. 

Dja ecoguards being sworn in
Dja ecoguards being sworn in

Ensuring forest officials are legally sworn in and therefore can use their full official powers was one of the recommendations implemented as part of the SMART (Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool) programme in the Dja.

SMART, which was developed by ZSL in partnership with other conservation organisations, is a combination of software, training materials and patrolling standards to establish effective patrolling systems, monitor wildlife populations and movements and identify threats such as poaching or disease.

Dja ecoguards collect data in SMART
Dja ecoguards collect data in SMART

ZSL’s implementation of SMART in the Dja reserve has led to more effective patrolling, increased arrests of suspected poachers, supported training in investigation and legal procedures and has been instrumental in ensuring that suspects are effectively prosecuted.  

In Djoum for instance, up to 5 case of serious wildlife crime involving ivory, leopard skin, chimpanzee meat, giant pangolin scale trafficking have been sent before the court and the 11 poachers/traffickers implicated  have either received their sentences or are waiting court decisions.

Ivory marking for traceability in Djoum, Cameroon
Ivory marking for traceability in Djoum, Cameroon

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