Ivory suspect sentenced in Cameroon

by Anonymous (not verified) on

Following a seizure of ivory, a suspected illegal trader has been sentenced to imprisonment and ordered to pay fines.

African elephant
African elephant

Illegal wildlife trade, estimated to be worth over USD $10 billion annually, is the world’s fourth most lucrative criminal industry after drugs, human-trafficking and weapons. It is a serious threat to many species around the world, including elephants, hunted for their ivory. In just two years between 2010 and 2012 over 10% of the total African elephant population was slaughtered for ivory. 

As we reported in November 2014, ZSL teams working in the Dja Biosphere Reserve (DBR), a conservation area in Cameroon and home to the endangered forest elephant, were involved in arresting a suspect with 91kg of tusk hidden in his truck full of cocoa bags. 

Illegal wildlife traders in the region often hide illicitly obtained goods such as ivory, elephant tails and pangolin scales under very heavy loads. Forest officers inspecting vehicles cannot offload tons of goods unless they are absolutely certain of the presence of illegal materials, so it is a popular way to evade the authorities. 

Cocoa truck hiding ivory tusks in Djoum, Cameroon
Cocoa truck hiding ivory tusks in Djoum, Cameroon

In this case, based on reliable information from the informants system supported by ZSL through SOS funds, a truck was seized in Djoum, a town outside of the Dja reserve. The truck belonged to a well-established and rich businessman, which attracted much attention locally and it was a challenge for DBR ecoguards, but partners including ZSL coordinated their efforts, with ZSL providing full support during the court procedure until a sentence was passed. 

The accused businessman was found guilty and condemned to a 4-months’ imprisonment and ordered to pay around $22000 in fines and civil awards. The accused has filed an appeal and the case has been sent to a higher court (Court of Appeal). 

Over the last year, ZSL has been following the case closely and working with the DBR head of legal unit Robert Okale to ensure that the current judgment is upheld.

ZSL has also been invited by the Government of Cameroon to support its National Ivory Action Plan (NIAP) and we supported the plan, ensuring the seized 91Kg of tusks and other seized illegal items are not fraudulently fuelling the black market.

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

 

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