Ako Hunting Guide Arrested for Wildlife Trafficking
A wildlife trafficker was arrested in Kumbo, in the Bui division of the North West Region for illegal commercialization of protected species. He was arrested as he attempted to sell 5 mandrills skulls and a live mona monkey, among other products. The operation was carried out by wildlife officials with the technical assistance of a wildlife law enforcement NGO called LAGA. The team from the Divisional Delegation of Forestry and Wildlife, was backed up by the Gendarmerie Company in Kumbo. The man who is known to be a hunting guide equally heads a hunters group in Ako in the Donga Mantung Division.
After his arrest, sources connected to the operation say the man who regularly assists wildlife officials during their field trips took extra steps to avoid being detected by wildlife officials as he transported the products to the place of transaction. The same sources that requested anonymity declared that he travelled from Ako on the 25th of September 2015 with the mandrill skulls and 4 other wart hog skulls stuffed inside a white knack sack and when he arrived Nkambe, he spent some time there and left, proceeding with the products to Kumbo. But before arriving Kumbo he stopped at a village some 30 km from the town and hid the mona monkey.
When he arrived Kumbo, he took up lodging in a hotel close to a popular junction called Squares. At about 4 am on the day of his arrest, he discretely left the hotel under the cover of darkness and made for the village where he had hidden the mona monkey. When he returned with the monkey, he immediately made for his hotel room, carrying the monkey along. Plain clothes wildlife officials who had been strategically stationed and waiting for his arrival sprung into action, stepped into the hotel and had him immediately arrested with all of the products found in his possession.
After his arrest, Gendarmeries sources disclosed that he is a well known trafficker in those parts of the country and preliminary investigations point to a disturbing fact that his activities were known to some wildlife officials who expressed surprise as they saw him handcuffed and arrested by their colleagues. Preliminary investigations that enabled his arrest also point to a suspected link between the trafficker and another wildlife official in the Ako area who may have been covering his activity. The illegal activities are suspected to extend to Nigeria and equally cover the ivory trade. The investigations also found out that he had suspicious contacts in Abonshe, a town located close to the Nigerian border.
A case file is being established against the trafficker and if found guilty, he may face up to 3 years imprisonment and the payment of a fine of up to 10 million CFA francs as stipulated by the law. The 1994 wildlife law that governs the wildlife sector stipulates that if anyone is caught in possession of parts of a protected wildlife species or a protected animal, that person is considered to have killed or captured the animal.
Photo: Arrested, trafficker travelled from Ako to sell products in Kumbo
Chimpanzee trafficker arrested in Wum.
A man was arrested for illegal possession and circulation of chimpanzee and mandrill bones, in Wum, in the Menchum Division of the North West Region. He was arrested during a crackdown operation carried out by the Menchum Divisional Delegation of Forestry and Wildlife working in collaboration with the police and a wildlife law enforcement NGO called LAGA.
The suspect who was arrested red handed, had packaged 8 chimpanzee skulls, 2 mandrill skulls, and several other chimpanzee bones which could not be immediately named inside a shopping bag and arrived the scene of transaction on a motorbike. Investigations had provided valuable information leading to the creation of a team of wildlife officials and police officers from the Wum Police Station and they waited for him to make his move with the products.
He is described as a big time trafficker and had links with another suspect in Bamenda with whom he carried out deals. Sources close to the operation say he also has an international link
After his arrest the Menchum Divisional Delegate of Forestry and Wildlife, Nguekeng Claude declared “according to procedure, we immediately called the state counsel and informed him of the arrest. He is presently detained and awaiting the completion of procedure, he shall be presented to the state counsel”.
The operation is the second within three days in the North West Region coming after the arrest of a man in Kumbo, Bui Division following his attempts at selling a live mona monkey and mandrill skulls. The man who is presently detained in Kumbo, travelled from Ako in the Donga Mantung Divison with the products. The rate of arrests has set alarm bells ringing creating concerns among some North West inhabitants who may just be discovering the rate of wildlife crimes in the region.
A Bamenda-based conservation expert expressed concern over the arrests as chimpanzees are now restricted to some patches of forests in the region that once had a huge population of the Nigeria Cameroon chimpanzee. Many believe the population has dwindled to almost extinction in the area. Osiris Doumbe, a conservation biologist is carrying out a study in the region to determine the population of this chimpanzee and according to the biologist, “This subspecies of chimpanzee is the rarest and the least studied of all four and is only found in the lowland and montane forests of Eastern Nigeria and Western Cameroon”.
This may explain why wildlife officials are stepping up enforcement measures which are aimed at obstructing the killing and commercialization of the Nigeria Cameroon chimpanzee which is just one of the very few totally protected species still found in the region. Ngeukeng Claude is the person charged with the effective application of the wildlife law in the Menchum Division and he declared, “We know that wildlife species are racing towards extinction and this necessitated its protection, that is why the law is being applied”. He seemed to have an extra spring in his step when he led his team his team to the field to hunt down the suspect and many believe this is necessary if we are to save the Nigeria Cameroon chimpanzee in the region.