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Wildlife Law Enforcement Officers Can Now Conduct Investigations, Qualify Wildlife Crimes

Within the context of wildlife conservation, wildlife law enforcement officers in the Northern region can now conduct investigations and qualify wildlife crimes among other procedures.

Before now, there was a huge gap in the qualification of offenses and follow-up to claim damages.

Agents experienced difficulties in applying the laws and regulations on the repression of wildlife crimes. Majority of forest and wildlife law enforcement officers did not master the qualification of offenses and not able to report wildlife offenses.

Without a mastery of the litigation procedures and follow-up, the courts remain approximate and sometimes non-existent and do not allow for a satisfactory visibility of MINFOF’s law enforcement activities.

North Cameroon is a major international attraction for wildlife conservation with several protected areas occupying nearly 44% (30,692 km2) of the region’s surface area. These are three National Parks: Benue National Park (PNB), Faro National Park (PNF) and Bouba Ndjidda National Park (PNBN), a Zoological Garden and 32 Zones of Hunting Interest (ZIC).

 Its rich ecology and network of protected areas are crucial for sport hunting and tourism in Cameroon. The important biodiversity provides habitat for several rare and/or endangered species (Lion, Derby Eland, Savanna Elephant, Savanna Buffalo, Wild Dog, Spotted Hyena, Leopard, etc.).

This network of protected areas is currently subject to poaching, trans-human headers, clandestine gold panning, slash and burn agriculture, huge deforestation and fishing using pesticides; activities that hinder the conservation of wildlife heritage of Northern Cameroon and greatly disturb the life of animal species.

The current context of globalization, characterized by the rapid spread of technological innovations including weapons of war, has led to profound changes in the nature and scale of poaching and wildlife crime. Globally, the trend is towards diversification and expansion of illegal activities beyond the boundaries of protected areas and countries. Advances in communication technology have opened up increasingly sophisticated avenues for crime, giving criminal organizations greater flexibility and dynamism.

Despite government and partners’ commitment, law enforcement actions against wildlife crime generally have little or no impact, leading to a situation of impunity for wildlife offenders and criminals.

Thanks to a capacity building workshop in Tcholliré, the staff of national parks: Bouba Ndjidda National Parks, the Benue National Park and the Mayo Rey Departmental Delegation can now carry out investigations, the qualification of offenses, refer cases to the judicial authorities, and the follow-up disputes before the courts.  Also, parks staff can now follow-up of the execution of legal decisions and recover payment for damages awarded to MINFOF.

Organized from 22 to 23 September 2022 at the Tcholliré Centre for the Promotion of Women and the Family, the workshop was attended by the DRFOF North, the President and the Prosecutor of Mayo Rey Courts (facilitators), representatives of the WCS/KFW BSB YAMOUSSA, WCS/EU ECONORCOM, DDFOF Mayo Rey, PNBN, PNB and DDFOF Mayo Rey staff.

Presentations, exchanges on institutional collaboration and the reinforcement of the chain of wildlife control and the interaction between MINJUSTICE of Tcholliré and the Judicial Police officers with special competence in its jurisdiction, punctuated the training.

The workshop was organized with the technical and financial support of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), through its BSB project in support of the Bouba Ndjidda National Park and its EcoNorCam project in support of the Benue National Park, financed respectively by KFW and the European Union.

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