A notorious wildlife trafficker has been arrested for unlawful possession of ivory tusks in Bertoua. He was arrested alongside another trafficker during an operation carried out by wildlife officials of the East Regional Delegation of Forestry and Wildlife following investigations into wildlife trafficking spanning the North and East Regions and the Central African Republic. The operation was also carried out in collaboration with the gendarmerie and with technical assistance from LAGA, a wildlife law enforcement organization.
The two men were arrested at the ‘Camp sic CRTV road in possession of 3.7 kg of ivory tusks partitioned into 6 pieces concealed in a bag. According to a source close to the matter that spoke on condition of anonymity, one of the traffickers travelled from Kentzou to Bertoua with the ivory tusks where he met the other and they both attempted to sell the illicit product, A military bag was used to conceal the tusks and they believed it would facilitate the transportation without him being intercepted on the way. The same source reported that the notorious trafficker, a former accountant with a money transfer agency at Kentzou, has been in the dragnet of wildlife officials of the East Region for a while now. He had been at the center of many illegal wildlife activities in the region.
Preliminary investigations show that he is part of a large network of wildlife traffickers operating in the North and East Regions of the country which extends beyond the borders and cover the sub region. Investigations carried out after his arrest reveal that he is also known in several towns (Kentzou, Mpaka, Lolo and Panda) in connection to the illegal gold trade. The two suspects, who are expected in court soon, were placed in the Bertoua central prison.
More and more evidence is emerging as to the risk of coming in contact with parts of wildlife species given that Covid-19 is a coronavirus found in many wildlife species. The law therefore targets those who illegally handle wildlife species. According to the 1994 wildlife law that prohibits poaching and trafficking of wildlife animals, anyone found in possession of parts of a protected wildlife species is considered to have killed the animal and is liable to a prison term of up to 3 years and or a fine of up to 10 million CFA francs. Elephants are totally protected and it is illegal to kill them or to trade in elephants products as well.