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Over 30 Guns, Bullets Seized In Southeast Cameroon 

 By Isidore Abah with Field Reports

Over 30 guns, 180 bullets, a motorcycle and a huge quantity of bush meat of Class B and C protected animals have been seized from suspected poachers and illegal detenders around the peripheric zone of Nki National Park in Southeast Cameroon. 
The seizures were made during a large scale anti-poaching operation codenamed “Opération Coup de Poing”,  orgainsed by the National Control Brigade of UTO Ngoyla-Mintom, and the Conservation service of Nki National Park, all of the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife, MINFOF, with the technical, financial and logistical support of  its strategic partner; the World Wide Fund for Nature, WWF. 
Besides the seizure, 395 wire snares were destroyed and a captured life tortoise released.
The Operation Coup de Poing”, which involved ecoguards of MINFOF, forces of law and order, including elements of the National Gendarmerie, the police and the elite force (Rapid Intervention Battalion) known in French as BIR, aimed at curbing poaching and illegal exploitation of other forest products in the Ngoyla-Mintom forest block of the Cameroon segment of TRIDOM landscape, involving the East and South Regions.
In all, 34 guns were seized in the operation that lasted five days (October 14-18) around Nki National Park, the Dja Biosphere Reserve and their peripheric zones. Key villages noted as hideouts for poachers and their acolytes were mainly targeted. These include Alati, Ntam, Zoulabot, Messok and Ngoyla. They also serve as transit for trafficking of ivory tusks and guns from neighbouring Republic of Congo and Central Africa Republic, two countries that have recently witnessed political instability.
Eco-guards explained that some of the guns and bullets seized came from neighbouring Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic. 
The rifles ranged from locally made guns, carabins and other war guns used in killing big game such as elephants and primates.
The hunt for the guns and poachers came against a backdrop of heightened poaching around Nki and other national parks in Southeast Cameroon that have witnessed unprecedented massacre of elephants in recent years. The operation also comes albeit years of awareness-raising campaigns among the local populations on the Cameroon wildlife law proscribing the illegal detention of guns. 
Thus, the operation had as major objective, to withdraw these guns, which are often used to kill elephants and other flagship species of these protected areas, from the hands of suspected poachers and other members of the local communities, who possess them illegally.
According to Pascal Dongmo, Conservator of Nki National Park, “This operation comes to reinforce the work we started since the beginning of the year, which aims at preventing the killing of big mammals, especially the elephant”. 
“Seizing 34 arms in a four to five-day operations is enormous. Out of the 34 arms seized, four are guns used in killing big games such as the elephant, an animal we are working hard, night and day, to protect. If you consider that one of these heavy guns is able to kill 10 to 15 elephants a year, then, some 40 to 60 elephants have been saved this year and the years to come. I, therefore, wish that many of such operations are organised often so that we can better protect the Ngoyla-Mintom landscape and our park,” the Conservator stated.
At the end of the operation, the seized consignment of bushmeat was burnt as a preventive measure against the deadly Ebola virus.

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