Fighting ivory smuggling through capacity building in Central Africa



Date Published
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Limbe, Cameroon, April 2015—Wildlife law enforcement officers and other agencies involved in law enforcement including police, Customs, gendarmerie and magistrates from five Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC) countries—Cameroon, Gabon, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo and Democratic Republic of Congo—participated in a three day workshop earlier this month in Limbe, South West Region, Cameroon, to learn about the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS).
ETIS is the world’s most sophisticated database of elephant ivory seizures and is operated by TRAFFIC on behalf of the Parties to CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora). 
Analysis of ETIS data is presented at CITES meetings and helps to identify those countries of concern over their control of trade in elephant ivory and of ivory markets. 
At the workshop opening ceremony, Paulinus Ngeh, Regional Director for TRAFFIC in Central Africa said, “Collection of high quality data for input to ETIS is vital as it underpins the analysis that is used by CITES Parties to CITES to inform their ivory-related decision making processes.”  
The regional delegate for Forest and Wildlife of Cameroon’s South West region, Mr Samuel Eben Ebai, said: “Receiving training in order to improve our fight against wildlife crime is an important part of the mission of our personnel.”
Following a brief overview of wildlife trafficking and criminal activity and their impact on people and biodiversity, the workshop focused on the illegal trade of elephant parts—mainly ivory—which is at the core of the wildlife debate in central Africa. 
After refreshing the memory of participants about CITES and presenting the most recent ETIS analysis in order to shed more light on the magnitude of the illegal trade in ivory and elephant specimens, a number of reporting gaps were identified, including genuine surprise over the low levels of reporting by some countries. 
The 46 participants formulated recommendations to improve reporting of data to ETIS, including the need for further trainings at the national level to engage more law enforcement staff and the need for focal points to be established at all levels of the transmission chain of ETIS forms. 
The workshop was organized by TRAFFIC under the auspices of the Cameroon Ministry of Forest and Wildlife. It was implemented in co-operation with GIZ, on behalf of and financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and co- financed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).