Some123 elephant tusks and 350Kg of Pangolin scales have been confiscated by the Southwest Regional Delegation of Forestry and Wildlife at the Tiko Warf. The confiscation was effected in the night of Monday 24th October, 2016 by a team comprising of the Divisional Officer of Tiko, Assistant State Counsel of Tiko, Chief of Special Branch Police, and MINFOF officials.
According to the Technical Controller No. 4 at the Southwest Regional Delegate of Forestry and Wildlife, Mr. Tataw Victor Echombe, the Chief of Forestry Poste for Tiko discovered some wildlife parts at the Tiko Warf and immediately alerted the Regional Delegate of MINFOF who together with other MINFOF staff and administrators visited the scene where they met the tusks and pangolin scales.
“The tusks were loaded in four bags which we opened and found used clothes and shoes camouflaged on top. We counted 123 pieces of tusks in the bag, and among the tusks, one was cut into 3 pieces, about 11 into 2 pieces, and about 3 cut into one piece, while the rest stayed whole,” Mr. Tataw explained.
The Regional Technical Controller disclosed that, the number of elephant tusks indicates that over 62 elephants were killed. He affirmed that most of the tusks came from totally protected elephant species.
“When we reconstituted the tusks which all weighed 294.19Kg, we counted 62 elephants massacred to get this number of tusks. Of the 62 elephants, 6 of them belonged to the class ‘B’, meaning that the tusks were more than 5Kg, and 56 of them belonged to the class ‘A’, meaning that they weighed less than 5Kg. The class ‘A’ elephants are entirely protected,” Mr. Tataw expounded.
Meantime, some giant and dwarf Pangolin scales weighing 350Kg were seized months back still at the Tiko Warf. The Regional Technical Controller explained that all Pangolins in Cameroon are entirely protected.
“According to the Convention for International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) list, both the giant and dwarf Pangolins are presently considered endangered and so must be protected,” Mr. Tataw said.
The perpetrators were not apprehended at the time of the confiscation but the regional Delegate of Forestry and Wildlife, Mr. Dipanda Francois, affirmed that investigations are ongoing and sooner than later, the culprits shall be tracked down and brought to justice.
“We are presently preparing administrative and technical reports from the exhibits we have with us. The investigations that shall be championed by my ministry, will soon be opened and in less than no time, the culprits behind this illegal act, shall be apprehended,” Mr Dipanda stated.
The Regional Delegate pleaded for more collaboration from custom officials at the border. To him, illegal forestry or wildlife activities at the border can be stopped if all collaborators play their part.
According to article 101 and 158 of the 1994 forestry law of Cameroon, anyone caught with a whole or part of a protected wildlife species, will be penalized with a fine of 3 to 10 million francs, or face a prison term of between 1 to 3 years.
By Fonki Yanick and Ndimuh Bertrand