A Nigerian man was arrested in Bertoua in the East region of Cameroon over illegal marketing of ivory and pangolin scales. The 43-year-old man was arrested this week in an operation conducted by agents of the Regional Delegation of Forestry and Wildlife of the East in collaboration with the police. The Last Great Ape Organization (LAGA) provided technical assistance during the operation.
The man was on board a taxi with suspicious packages hidden in a trunk; when he stopped, he got out and headed to a bar, he was surrounded by wildlife officers. Azemte Mbemo Alain Patrick, the head of the regional department of the Eastern fauna, is the man who led the operation.
“The suspect hired a taxi and headed for the place of the transaction with a client when he was arrested. He tried to resist, but was quickly neutralized by the gendarmerie that helped us and was immediately taken to our offices. This operation was carried out through collaboration with LAGA a nongovernmental organization that helps us dismantle the wildlife trafficking network.” said Patrick.
He was found in possession of five bags containing 12 ivory tusks and more than 200 kg of giants pangolin scales that are wildlife species protected under the 1994 Act of wildlife. According Azemte Mbemo, the man is known by the judicial police and is believed to have been involved in wildlife trafficking since 2013. He was born in Bertoua and control the area very well. He used an auto parts store sales as a cover to conceal his illegal activities, but rarely had this shop auto parts.
His main customers are Chinese buyers and had a Chinese contact list and names that indicate the extent of his business and professionalism.
According to sources close to the file, he buys the products to poachers in the East, but also in Congo and Gabon, and then resells them to Chinese and Nigerian buyers, he also exports these products to Nigeria. Buyers come from Yaounde and Douala. According to reliable sources, he would own a nearby storeroom at Garoua Boulai where he keeps products.
The illegal trade in pangolin scales is becoming a huge problem for wildlife officers and in order to halt this situation, the Minister of Forestry and Wildlife, Ngole Ngwese Philip, had signed a circular letter in June 2013, suspending all licensing authorizing the movement of pangolin species in the country. the law enforcement concentrated to hinder trade and this operation is one of many that have been conducted in the last two years as part of the agreement signed between the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife and The Last Great Ape Organization (LAGA).