By Cynthia Mankeh
A suspected wildlife trafficker shall appear at the Ambam Court of First Instance on November 19, 2020 in connection with the trafficking of 626kgs of ivory. The charges were brought against him following his arrest in Ambam on October 21, 2020 with 118 tusks by customs.
Mohamadou Ibrahim was arrested during a control mission at the border town of Ambam. The 47-year-old suspect was found in possession of 626kgs of ivory concealed in a hidden compartment built inside his truck. He was transporting the elephant tusks to Yaoundé for an illegal transaction when he was intercepted by customs. He was later handed over by customs to the Ntem-Valley Divisional Delegation of Forestry and Wildlife to continue with the prosecution process according to the procedure related to the prosecuting of wildlife law offenders. A wildlife law enforcement organisation, LAGA is technically assisting authorities in the legal procedure.
The case opened on October 26, 2020 and was postponed by the presiding judge to November 19, 2020 to enable both parties to prepare for the trial which will begin in earnest with arguments and presentation of facts. Further investigations revealed that some of the ivory was coming from elephant tusks seized by the Gabonese authorities and which were being kept in the government stock pile. This shows the extent and magnitude of the traffic in ivory on an international scale. According to sources with close proximity to the investigations who requested for anonymity, he is part of a ring network of wildlife traffickers, he transports ivory from Gabon to Cameroon and to Nigeria.
Speaking from Nairobi, Kenya, Ofir Drori, the Director of the EAGLE Network, applauded the authorities for dismantling such an organized criminal network. He equally requested for serious action to be taken against the suspect to serve as a strong deterrence.
This is not the first time the country has seen its elephant population being attacked and depleted. The elephant population was estimated at 21,000 in 2010 according to the National Strategy for Elephant Management but their populations keep falling. The rise in ivory trafficking has contributed to a significant reduction in the elephant population.
According to a multilateral treaty to protect endangered plants and animals known as CITES, the international trade in ivory is totally prohibited, and the elephant is a species that is fully protected by both national and international laws and regulations.
Cameroon’s 1994 law regulating the wildlife sector of the country punishes any person arrested in possession of a totally protected species with three years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to FCFA 10 million. Wildlife and customs officials will be pushing for a maximal sentence to ensure elephants have a future in the country.