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Leopard Skin Dealers Arrested 

By Nformi Sonde Kinsai

Two wildlife traffickers trying to trade in a fresh leopard skin have been arrested in Sangmelima, South Region of Cameroon. Their arrest, The Post learnt, came on the heels of instructions issued by the Minister of Forestry and Wildlife, Prof. Elvis Ngolle Ngolle, to intensify wildlife law enforcement within the precincts of the Dja Reserve, which spans from the South to East Regions of Cameroon.

Dealers with leopard skin

According to a press release issued by the Last Great Ape Organisation, LAGA, an international NGO specialised in wildlife law enforcement, the operation that led to the arrest of the duo was carried out by the Dja and Lobo Divisional Delegation of Forestry and Wildlife. The Delegation benefitted from the collaboration of the forces of law and order and the technical assistance of LAGA, the release states.

The Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife, MINFOF, is reportedly in a renewed alert mode to track down and crack on all those who violate the 1994 forestry and wildlife law. It is against such a backdrop that a case file is being established against the leopard skin dealers, currently under detention.

On the determination of MINFOF to carry on the fight against illegal trade in protected wildlife species to its logical end, Prof. Elvis Ngolle Ngolle is quoted as declaring that: "We will continue with this crusade to ensure the effective enforcement of the wildlife law in order to permit our conservation partners to understand the determination of the Cameroon government to respect good governance in the sustainable management of forest and wildlife ecosystems."

In an attempt to bring the situation under control, the government of Cameroon and LAGA since 2003 took sides and launched the national programme on effective wildlife law enforcement by bringing wildlife criminals to justice. The programme has registered successes with now Cameroon being projected and hailed by the international community as a world leader in wildlife law enforcement.

On such grounds, The Post gathered, the Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC) is offering support for the experiences to be replicated in some countries of the Central African Sub-region notably Congo Brazzaville, Central African Republic and Gabon at the request of their governments.

It is worth noting that leopards are totally protected by the 1994 forestry and wildlife law of Cameroon, which stipulates that anyone found in possession of part or live protected wildlife species (leopards inclusive) is liable to a prison term from one to three years and or pay a fine from FCFA 3 to 10 million.

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