CAMEROUN :: Cameroon: Two arrested with bags of pangolin scales in Ebolowa
Two suspected pangolin scales traffickers have been arrested in Ebolowa following a sting operation carried out by wildlife officials and the judicial police on October 10.
The two, aged 39 and 37, who were found attempting to sell over 70kg of pangolin scales at the Mekalat neighbourhood in Ebolowa. They carefully concealed the pangolin bags when they arrived the area but were uncovered by wildlife officials. The operation was carried out by the South Regional Delegation of Forestry and Wildlife, with the technical assistance of The Last Great Ape Organisation (LAGA).
According to sources close to the matter that spoke on condition of anonymity, the two have been doing business for a very long time with a Nigerian national who regularly bought and exported pangolin scales. They equally had a collection of small scale traffickers scattered around villages near Djoum and Mvangan. They would go around collecting the scales and when the quantities were significant, they would sell on to a bigger trafficker. Their activity span across Gabon and Congo and had been going on for a number of years.
The operation comes on the heels of another operation carried out a day before that witnessed the arrest of two ivory traffickers in Yaounde by wildlife officials who were assisted by LAGA. The arrests fall within the framework of government’s collaborative efforts at implementing wildlife laws. The illegal trade in pangolin scales is emerging, along the lines of the illegal ivory trade, as a serious threat to the survival of pangolins and several tons of scales have been seized within the framework of this collaboration. Government, in February this year, destroyed three of an approximately eight tons of pangolin scales already seized and stocked.
During the last few years, a growing number of people are being arrested for trafficking in pangolin scales indicating a rapid rise of the illegal trade in pangolin scales. This is gradually drawing attention to the plight of the pangolins that is considered to be the most trafficked mammal in the world. Several tons of pangolins have equally been seized in Asia and the origin is always invariably from Africa, especially from Central Africa including Cameroon.
Cameroon is home to three species of pangolins including the long tail pangolin, the tree pangolin and the giant pangolin with all are listed in class A that gives maximum protection to endangered species of wildlife in the country.
The first hearing of the case against the two traffickers has been fixed for October 17 and they are presently in custody, They shall be facing charges of illegal possession, circulation and commercialization of parts of protected wildlife. According to the 1994 wildlife law, they have equally been charged with the killing of protected species.