Maximum sentence to wildlife trafficker in Cameroon


Standard Tribune

Date Published
MUDEMBA – The trafficker pictured above with the silver suit and a “prince-like” look with all the elephant parts, probably lost his smug look September 2, as he was sentenced to three years in prison – the maximum sentence for a wildlife crime in Cameroon.
Effiam Peter Effiong was arrested alongside Nwese Solomon Nwese, a corporal with Cameroon’s marine marchande corps on June 17, 2013 in the southwest of the country during their attempts at selling over 100 elephant bones.
The two ferried the bones from deep inside the Korup National Park that has Africa’s oldest and most diversified rain forest, to a hotel room in a town close to the park. The first consignment of bones arrived at about midnight in the town where it was carefully hidden. The second consignment followed at 4:30 am and the last at 8:30 am on June 17, 2014. The bones were then regrouped and parked inside a hotel room from where they proceeded with business.
With the demeanor of rich businessmen, they would proceed with diligence and calm but this quickly gave way to panicking and attempts at escaping when wildlife officials stormed their hotel room. They had been under investigations for some time by local wildlife officials working with a conservation group called LAGA. The corporal tried to fight his way free but was quickly subdued by gendarmes.
The court’s verdict came down fiercely after just two and a half months of trial which is significantly fast for a country that has long delays in trying cases. Observers say this is appropriate because it was a flagrante delicto case. The trial of persons caught in the act of committing an offence should be quicker, they say. They were ordered to pay fines and damages of over $200 000.
By the time the court was reading off the final lines of its verdict, a similar court in the East of the country was sentencing a renowned poacher to serve a prison term of one and a half years. Atangana Jean was convicted on charges of killing protected wildlife species, possession and circulation of parts of protected wildlife species. The court ruling came after a 9-month long trial during which time he stayed behind bars from the moment of his arrest.