Cameroon: Wildlife trafficker sentenced to more than a year in prison

A wildlife trafficker has been sentenced to more than a year in prison by the Bertoua court of first instance for trafficking pangolin scales.

He was found guilty in court on March 8 for unlawful possession of protected wildlife, including pangolin carcasses and scales. The judge sentenced the trafficker to one year and seven months in prison, as a deterrent sentence to persuade would-be traffickers to enter the illegal business and to warn veterans of the game that they would surely face the law if they were arrested.

He was arrested last month at his home in Bonis, about 9 km from Bertoua, during a crackdown by wildlife officers from the Departmental Delegation of Forests and Wildlife of Lom & Djerem with the technical support from The Last Great Ape Organization, a wildlife law enforcement agency also known as LAGA. 246kg of pangolin scales were recovered hidden in an unfinished building belonging to him and 3 pangolin carcasses and petting monkeys were discovered in a refrigerator at his home. The 246 kg of pangolin scales represent a massacre of more than a thousand pangolins.

The court’s decision came just days after the World Wildlife Day observance during which many animal advocates and supporters, including World Animal Protection, an international non-profit animal rights organization , called for strict measures to enact wildlife protection policies. The decision is consistent with the appeal. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) database shows that around 1.6 trillion wild animals are killed by humans every day and that tons animals such as pangolins are trafficked every year. The rate of killings necessitates stiff penalties to deter trafficking.

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