An alleged trafficker of wildlife was arrested March 29, 2016, in Bafang in Upper Nkam Department in the western region, following a sting operation conducted by the Divisional Delegation of Forestry and wildlife agents who exploited the information gathered in the investigation over several hard weeks. The team that benefited from the assistance of gendarmes arrived at the scene of the transaction and surprised the trafficker, who had a batch consisting of various trophies of wildlife, such as a skin of a young python, the skull of a mandrill, an elephant’s tail, three fresh heads of recently slaughtered chimpanzees, and seven chimpanzee skulls.
The suspect aged 37 went to Nkondjock in the Littoral region, where he had collected these products from some poachers to sell in Bafang. When he was with his customer, the wildlife officers who had accurate information about his movements arrived, stopped him, and took him instead to his hearing. Shocked, he did not resist, but calmly obeyed the orders given to him.
The operation was conducted with the technical assistance of the NGO “The Last Great Ape Organization” (LAGA). This individual is a particular type of trader that deals with various types of wildlife, experts say, demonstrating that the traffic is an illegal occupation. In such a scenario, the trader has a large number of poachers who supply various types of wildlife. What was impressive for those present were the three heads of freshly slaughtered chimpanzees.
Since the beginning of this year, the Ministry of Forests and Wildlife is in alert mode and is renewed to stem the trafficking of protected species in the country. In this regard, Sakoue Isaac, the Departmental Delegate of forests and fauna of Upper Nkam, said shortly after the arrest of this man: “Ignorance of the law is no excuse, we are now to the repressive stage and anyone who defies wildlife law must be treated accordingly.” This is what the ministry has done over the last two months with major LAGA collaborative efforts to stop an already precarious situation.
It should be noted that according to estimates, nearly 4,000 chimpanzees are killed each year to supply the meat market flourishing in Africa and as products of the illicit trade in meat, the heads of chimpanzees and their skulls attract another kind of buyer. Investigations in the country over the past two years show that this specialized trade is cross-border and buyers come from as far as Nigeria to get the heads of chimpanzee and skulls.