1st Semester Report 2007
Very good progress was made during this period on all aspects of LAGA’s collaboration with Cameroon’s Ministry of Forests and Fauna (MINFOF), with tangible achievements not only in the fields of investigation, arrest, and prosecution, but also in media exposure, government relations, and international activities.
- A total of 143 investigative missions were conducted in this period in nine provinces.
- International investigations were conducted in Nigeria, France, and Belgium.
- In January, following the recruitment of a LAGA chief of investigations, planning and reporting structures were re-adjusted and Internet wildlife trade investigations were initiated.
- Operations were carried out in six provinces against 22 individuals, resulting in 22 court cases.
- The rate of imprisonment for these cases rose to 85 percent.
- Twenty-two new cases were brought to court and represented. (Many of the cases begun during the period have not yet reached this stage but are still ongoing.)
- In June, one dealer was sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment for the murder of an Ecoguard.
- The program that had been initiated to make the legal representation of wildlife cases by the Ministry financially sustainable, without external assistance, was maintained and further developed.
- Damages awarded reached $2,000.
- A total of 153 pieces were produced in national media (television, radio, and written press).
- Wildlife Justice magazine (a bilingual, bi-monthly journal about the progress of wildlife law enforcement in Cameroon) continued with printing and distribution.
- Training in the media department started on electronic media, with some immediate results.
- Workers showed independence during director’s mission trips out of Cameroon.
- The inculcation of LAGA values continued.
External Relations and Policy
- In February 2007 LAGA met with the Prime Minister to brief him on the progress made on wildlife law enforcement and seek for more government support in the ongoing process.
- In several important meetings with the Minister of Wildlife and Forestry and other high officials during this period, LAGA managed to achieve immediate changes in the Ministry.
- Concerted efforts were being made to bring back the four gorillas (the “Taiping Four”) smuggled out of Cameroon about six years ago and now living in a South African zoo.
- A well-known trader was arrested with eight bags of chimpanzee meat.
- Chinese links to international trade were identified, and one company in Nigeria trading in Chinese motorbikes to Chad was investigated regarding ivory and lion skin trafficking.
- Wide use was made of media to help create a deterrent atmosphere, and strategic information was collected and provided to the government regarding wildlife crimes.
- Other investigations and operations involved Internet wildlife trade as connected to other criminal activity, such as the illegal sale or adoption of children and illegal immigration.
- LAGA expanded its activities and collaboration outside of Cameroon: in Congo-Brazzaville, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), South Africa, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Nigeria, Spain, and Gabon.