A corporal with the Marine Marchande corps and a notorious poacher popularly known as Mangolo around the Korup Nattional Park have been arrested. The two were arrested on June 17, 2014 in Mundemba during a crackdown operation carried out by the Ndian Divisional Delegation of Forestry and Wildlife working in collaboration with the forces of law and order. Over one hundred elephant bones were seized from the suspects.
The two who attempted to sell the elephant bones were arrested in a Mundemba hotel when the wildlife officials who had been investigating their activities, accompanied by the forces of law and order, surrounded the hotel while the dealers were negotiating their transaction inside. LAGA, a wildlife law enforcement body provided technical assistance.
The bones which included 2 elephant skulls, 58 molar teeth, 40 premolar teeth, 8 tibia bones and one jawbone were later conveyed to the state council’s office where a case file is being established against the two. From every indication the elephants were killed in the Korup National Park. The suspected dealers used the cover of darkness to transport the bones. The first consignment of bones was transported from the Korup camp, a locality inside the Korup national park at about 12 midnight to Mundemba where it was carefully hidden. The second consignment would follow at 4: 30 am and the last at 8 : 30 am. One of the suspects would arrive first at the hotel, then the second would arrive shortly afterwards. Wildlife officials and gendarmes surrounded the hotel and checked into the room where the dealers were found. When they attempted arresting the two, a scuffle ensued because the corporal refused to collaborate and violently resisted arrest but the situation was quickly brought under control as gendarmes forcefully arrested him.
This is the second time a member of the Marine Marchande corp has been arrested. In July 2012, wildlife officials arrested a dealer who attempted to sell ivory in Douala. He turned out to be member of the corp that is expected to control ships in Cameroon coasts. Illegal ivory is generally transported through ships because of its heavy weight and with these arrests highlighting the involvement of members of the marine marchande corps, a new field of investigations opens up for those in charge of fighting wildlife trafficking.
The suspect who goes by the nickname Mangolo is a well known bush meat trafficker and poacher around the Korup area with many years of experience in the domain.. Considering the share size of the bones, several elephants must have been killed and in any case at least two because 2 skulls were recovered from the suspects. This is a welcome relief for conservationists of the Korup park who have been witnessing trafficking activities within the area while offering very little in terms of repression.
The park that was created in 1986 is Africa’s oldest and most diverse rain forest and it is found in the area between Mundemba and Eyumujock in the South West Region. Its ecological milieu is unique providing a rich, diverse variety of plants and animals and it is considered to be an invaluable conservation area in Africa. The park is well known for its colourful and shapely primates such as the mandrill, the drill and the colobus monkey and most importantly it is home to the forest elephant that is now severely threatened by poachers and traffickers alike. The two are also suspected of ivory trafficking in the South West Region.
It should be recalled that illegal trafficking in bones of protected wildlife species have witnessed a recent upsurge as operations carried out within the framework of the wildlife law enforcement programme launched by the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife in 2003 is shedding more light on the activity. Last month, two operations carried out involved gorilla, chimpanzee and elephant bones while in March 4 elephant skulls were seized from a trafficker in Mindourou in the East region. Chinese traditional medicine is considered the reason for the increase in the intensity in the trafficking of bones of wildlife species because ground bone is used in the concoctions.