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6 Pygmies Shot As Rangers Pursue Poachers 

By Fidelis Pegue Manga

Seven people, amongst them, six Baka pygmies, were recently (March 12) shot and wounded in Salapoumbe Subdivision in the East Region. This follows an upsurge in poaching reportedly orchestrated by hunters from neighbouring Central African Republic.

Guns seized

Armed mostly with locally made rifles, poachers enter Cameroonian territory from Bayanga, Salo and Zendi, all villages in Central African Republic, and kill all species of wildlife including elephants, gorillas, chimpanzees and bongo antelopes.

“They cross the Gobounou and Sangha Rivers and carry out poaching in forest concessions and sport hunting zones near Lobéké and Boumba-Bek National Parks,” explained Ottou Balla, Chief of Sector in charge of Wildlife for Boumba and Ngoko Division.

“They pose a serious menace to both wildlife and people. On March 12, they shot six Baka pygmies who were clearing up a trail in a sport hunting zone, wounding them in the back,” said Parfait Afanda, a game ranger who was on patrol alongside other colleagues when the incident occurred.

Before the shooting, rangers had closed in on the poachers and fired a warning shot, “But the poachers fired back at us, narrowly missing one of my colleagues. They abandoned the bush meat they were carrying and escaped,” Afanda recounted. The suspected poachers are said to have left word that should they encounter Cameroonian rangers in the forest, they would not hesitate to shoot at them.

In early December 2010, poachers shot Tarka Roger, 16, in the head in the same forest area. So serious is insecurity that the Director of the sport hunting company, Frederick Dumont, whose workers came under attack, suspended activities and filed a complaint to the wildlife administration in Boumba et Ngoko.

20 Central Africans Arrested

Efforts to stop poaching since January 2011 have so far resulted in the arrest and detention of some 20 Central African poachers. Some 10 guns have also been seized from the poachers who are all detained in Yokadouma Prison.

Interrogated at the Delegation of Forestry and Wildlife in Yokadouma, the poachers said they are supplied locally made rifles and automatic guns from Salo and Nola in Central Africa.
“We kill all types of wildlife species even though elephants, gorillas, chimps, and panthers are most targeted,” they told the Chief of Sector in charge of Wildlife.

Asked why they crossed the border into Cameroonian territory to hunt, the poachers said the forest in Central Africa is no longer rich in wildlife. They also said they do not master the border line that separates Cameroon and Central Africa.

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