Delivering Justice to Cameroon's Wildlife Criminals

Elephant jaw bone/tooth dealer (c) LAGA

Between late January and late February this year, ivory, elephant tooth and leopard skin dealers were arrested in Cameroon thanks to the intervention of a small but renowned organisation which Born Free has been supporting since shortly after they were established in 2002 - the Last Great Ape Organisation (LAGA).

  • A 37-year old repeat offender and three others were arrested in the Eastern Region of Cameroon for the illegal possession of elephant ivory and meat. The arrests were carried out following investigations into the activity of the suspects by wildlife law enforcement officials.
  • A 41-year old man was arrested in the capital city of Yaounde for attempting to sell numerous elephant teeth and jaw bones. Having travelled under cover of darkness to Yaounde from the east of Cameroon by car, the suspect contacted a potential buyer and was instantly arrested by wildlife officials with backup from the police.
  • Another three people, including a traditional dignitary, were arrested in west Cameroon during two operations by police and wildlife officials involving possession and sale of leopard skins. 

In all four cases, the operations were supported with LAGA’s technical assistance.

LAGA conceived, trialled and is now helping to roll out its innovative approach to wildlife law enforcement, by spreading the model across central and west Africa, focussing on the critical role of corruption in the arrest and conviction rate of wildlife criminals. This model, now in various stages of replication in 6 other countries, achieves its dramatic results through fostering close collaborations between small wildlife conservation organisations and government agencies. Their activities involve field investigations and operations, legal assistance and media outreach. Born Free is proud to be associated with this relatively new approach to tackling illegal wildlife trade which is yielding the tangible outcomes needed to protect wildlife in the wild.

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