Poaching: What Defenses? (Cameroon)


Cameroon Tribune

Date Published

The Minister of Forestry and Wildlife, Ngole Philip Ngwese, a few days
ago in Yaounde conducted an incineration of 2,000 elephant tusks and
1,753 ivory  art objects seized at the hands of poachers. This act
ordered by the President of the Republic is to comply with the terms
of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild
flora threatened with extinction (CITES) and the ratification of
various global agreements and subregional levels by Cameroon. And it’s
not over, because Cameroon intends to continue the fight against
poaching, together with neighboring countries and partners. The
Cameroon government has chosen to burn these ivory stocks so that
tusks and art objects are not found on the black market, where the
increase in ivory prices currently observed fuel the appetite of

According to the data of the Ministry for the Forests and Fauna
(MINFOF), the network of protected areas in Cameroon covers a surface
of approximately 9 597 203.57 hectares, that is to say 20.1% of the
national territory. This area is inhabited by elephants, lions,
giraffes, leopards, hyenas, gorillas, cheetahs, etc. Between December
2011 and March 2012, these protected areas have suffered the onslaught
of poachers. In Bouba Ndjida National Park in the north, about 300
elephants were decimated between December 2011 and February 2012.
Since this disaster, Cameroon’s elephant population estimated in 2010
at 21,000 head, dropped significantly. And predators themselves
continue to rage. In the Eastern Region, more than 7,500 tons of
protected species carcasses were seized in 2015 under the
decentralized services of MINFOF—proof that the hunting of protected
species continues despite the devices deployed in different protected
areas of the country.

And to capture their prey, poachers do not skimp on the means. Eighty
ammunition and two Kalashnikov magazines were seized in the hands of
traffickers in January in the East. In addition,

it was learned during a recent workshop in Douala that these illegal
hunters use more aircraft to transport their goods to Asia and Europe.
In the Central Africa region, of about 132 seizures, 116 are by air,
which reveals that this poaching is not orchestrated by amateurs.
These are, indeed, well-oiled networks run by unexpected characters
motivated by greed and willing to invest in advanced weaponry and
recruit the necessary manpower to achieve their ends, aided in some
cases by local populations ignorant of the issue of the protection of
these species.

This is a mafia which the Cameroonian government decided to squeeze
funding from, with the support of neighboring countries and financial
partners. The commitment was reaffirmed in Paris in December 2013 by
the President of the Republic, Paul Biya, during the round table on
the fight against trafficking and poaching of endangered species held
alongside the Summit on Peace and security in Africa. At the national
level, besides the deployment of specialized defense forces to secure
national parks and protected areas, building effective eco-guards and
the acquisition of motorized ultralights for aerial surveillance of
protected areas, an emergency plan was developed and validated. The
national security of the protected area’s Emergency Plan amounted to
192 million euros, or about 126 billion francs for the period
2012–2017. At the subregional level, Cameroon has signed three
agreements with neighboring countries to fight cross-border poaching.
One of them concerns the Tri-National Sangha for protected areas
between Cameroon, Congo, and CAR.

Despite this arsenal of measures to counter the scourge of poaching,
shortcomings persist in the field today. This deserves to be
strengthened with regard to the challenge of this sector. Indeed, the
forest-wildlife sector contributes revenue to the tune of 64.2 billion
francs, of which 27.8 billion francs is in respect of the specific
taxation and 36.4 billion francs is for taxation related to the
harvesting and processing of wood, hunting activity, and the sector of
non-timber forest products.