Cameroon ranked 7th in Africa for illegal wildlife trafficking

Cameroon ranked 7th in Africa for illegal wildlife trafficking

Despite measures taken by law enforcement, Cameroon remains a major source and transit point for illegal wildlife trafficking (IWT). A new report by TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring network, found that Cameroon ranked seventh out of 29 African nations in terms of IWT during the decade spanning from 2009 to 2019.

The report, titled “Analysis of Wildlife Court Cases in Cameroon: Jan 2010 – Dec 2022,” analyzed 675 wildlife crime cases that had been brought before Cameroon’s courts. It found that the most frequently seized items included elephant tusks, ivory artifacts, pangolin scales, African Grey Parrots, and primates traded for purposes other than bushmeat.

Elephant-related products accounted for 40% of all seizures, and were often bundled with other illicitly traded items. Some wildlife criminals even engaged in cyber-enabled IWT.

The report also found that there are several glaring loopholes in Cameroon’s legal system that need to be addressed to ensure the effective prosecution of wildlife criminals. These loopholes include insufficient cooperation between agencies, inadequate record-keeping, and misinterpretations of the 1994 Wildlife Law.

Despite these challenges, the report found that there has been some progress in prosecuting wildlife criminals in Cameroon. Out of the 675 cases reviewed, 518 (77%) led to prosecutions, with varying degrees of penalties imposed. However, the report also found that there is a significant level of corruption within the legal system, with 24% of cases displaying evidence of influence peddling and corruption.

The report’s findings are a stark reminder of the challenges that Cameroon faces in combating wildlife crime. However, the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between TRAFFIC’s Central Africa Office and the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife in July 2023 is a positive step towards strengthening cooperation and addressing the loopholes in the legal system.