Two big ivory traffickers have been arrested last March 2, 2013, by the Forces of Law and Order in Yaounde. They were arrested while trying to sell ivory at the Bastos neighbourhood in Yaounde.The two aged, 36 and 43 are suspected to be ring leaders of a criminal syndicate dealing in illegal ivory in the Republic of Congo and Cameroon.
Law enforcement officials of the 10th Police District in Yaounde collaborated with officials of the Centre Regional Delegation of Forestry and Wildlife while a non governmental organization called LAGA provided technical assistance during the operation.
Investigations into their involvement with the criminal syndicate linked to the seizure of 24 ivory tusks last month are on-going. It should be recalled that last February, wildlife officials in Yaounde seized 24 ivory tusks from a trafficker who equally had links to the Republic of Congo. The operational methods of the two ivory dealers are very similar to those of the dealer arrested last February and investigations are digging deep to burst this network, officials say. Also similar with the two cases, is the fact that small elephant tusks were recovered meaning that very young elephants were killed.
The killing of elephants for their ivory is a present-day crisis for conservationists and most especially to governments around the world who are presently attending the 16th Conference of Parties (CoP) of the Conventional on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) that is currently taking place at the Thai Capital, Bangkok. The 16th CoP of CITES is of particular interest to the fight against illegal ivory trade because it has recently become more of a problem than it was, when the 1989 ivory ban was passed by CITES. Dignitaries from all over the world are calling on governments to take the challenge of protecting Africa’s elephants. The Duke of Cambridge in a pre-recorded video message that was played to delegates at the opening of the CoP CITES said “We must do more to combat this serious crime if we are to reverse the current alarming trends. If, not, we could soon see some populations of these creatures or even entire species, disappear from the wild”.
The need for a strong political will from governments around the world to combat wildlife crimes is necessary as the crime has become very sophisticated and it is carried out by powerful traffickers as the activities leading to the arrest of the two ivory traffickers in Yaounde demonstrate. They used many tricks including hiding ivory in unsuspected corners and moving investigators around for many days before they were arrested. In this light, this arrest that came in just a few hours after the CoP of CITES opened is a good measure of hope for governments that are fully engaged in pursuing wildlife criminals. Cameroon, is a good example in this domain. Since 2003, the government of Cameroon signed a convention to intensify the fight against wildlife trafficking and the records have be very good. Under this convention, a wildlife criminal is brought to court each week. Among other things, the country has won awards such as the Interpol Eco-message award for achievements in this domain. Cameroon is equally a party to CITES.
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