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Yaounde, Cameroon, October 2015—methods to counter ivory trafficking were under the spotlight during training events held by TRAFFIC for enforcement officers working in key Nigeria-Cameroon border regions last month.
In September, a total of 64 officials received hands-on tips in how to contribute ivory trafficking intelligence to the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS) and to learn about the system’s vital role in helping decision makers identify countries whose engagement in the illegal ivory trade is of greatest concern.
ETIS is managed by TRAFFIC on behalf of Parties to CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). It is the world’s largest database of elephant product seizures and contains the only extensive information on illicit ivory trade available.
The training events took place at Mamfe, in Cameroon’s South-West Region close to the key border towns of Ekok and Eyumojock and during the annual meeting of the Regional Anti-poaching Committee of the North-West Region.
Regional delegates of all relevant law enforcement and related agencies participated, including representatives from Customs, police, gendarmerie, justice, transport, finance and tourism.
The trainings took place following a regional workshop for law enforcement officials held in Limbe in April 2015, which identified the need for ETIS training events to be held at the site level to benefit field-based staff.
“ETIS is an essential tool for Cameroon,” said Paulinus Ngeh, TRAFFIC’s Regional Director for Central Africa.
“Cameroon plays a major role in all ivory seizure classes in Central Africa and has been observed to function as an important entrepôt and exit point for illicit ivory in the past. Hence proper reporting from Cameroon into ETIS must be scaled up to help us combat the illicit trade routes.”
Officials attending last month’s meetings received information about the legislation and policies in place in Cameroon to protect wildlife, in particular elephants. Among them was a circular letter from the Minister for Forests and Wildlife appointing National, Regional and Divisional focal points for issues relating to CITES in Cameroon, and calling upon them to ensure that an ETIS form is duly submitted following each elephant product seizure.
The need for greater awareness about this requirement was clearly apparent: fewer than 10% of those attending had heard of ETIS, none had filled in an ETIS record form, yet more than half of the delegates had been involved in an ivory or other elephant product seizure at least once during their careers. Another key topic on the agenda was how seized items should be treated during the legal process.
Mrs Mbah Grace, Regional Delegate of Cameroon’s Ministry of Forests and Wildlife (MINFOF) congratulated TRAFFIC for taking the initiative to visit the North-West Region, and a number of delegates asked for support from TRAFFIC for further regional workshops and to provide logistical assistance to facilitate efforts to combat wildlife trafficking and wildlife crime.
The latest training events were carried out under the auspices of project DETER, “Demand Reduction and Enforcement supporting The conservation of Elephants and Rhinos,” supported by the German Polifund measure, implemented by GIZ on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), with staff support received through the Wildlife Trafficking Response, Assessment and Priority Setting (Wildlife TRAPS) Project, supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).