Monday, February 8, 2010

MINFOF, WWF launch war against poachers

The Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) have launched a sensitisation campaign on the dangers of illegal hunting of wildlife and sale of bush meat.

The campaign began with an information day co-organised by the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife and WWF for journalists in Yaoundé. This is due to the fact that the media is better placed to disseminate the information to actors and perpetrators of wildlife policy.

Speaking at the information day that took place at the Mvog-Betsi zoological garden in Yaoundé, the Secretary General in the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife, Kolagna Kotou Denis, said illegal poaching and the sale of bush meat leads to extinction of some wildlife species. It is for this reason the Cameroon government has banned the exploitation of some wildlife species like chimpanzees, gorillas etc, the SG said.

In order to check this ill, bush meat markets will be created around the country by Government Delegates or Mayors where the meat that will be sold would have been legally exploited. The Secretary General also revealed that heavy punishments await those who will go against the rules binding the hunting and sale of wild life species in Cameroon.

However this move is not aimed at stopping people from hunting nor consuming bush meat the SG said. It is only a means of checking illegality and wanton exploitation. Hence any hunter according to the officials must therefore go for a hunting permit from the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife for any hunter who will be caught with part or whole wild life specie without a hunting permit will face severe sanctions.

The sensitisation seminar comes barely a few weeks after the Ministry of Forestry and Wild Life seized some parts of protected species from illegal hunters and sellers comprising of 547 elephant tusks, 1,300 cartridges, 363 ammunitions etc. These seized items were therefore auction and the ministry raised some 5.5 million CFA frs from the sales.

Today, out of some 300 court cases linked to illegal poaching of protected wildlife species, some 53 judgements have been passed on.

On the future plan of the Ministry in combating illegal poaching, the SG said the Ministry will acquire modern fire arms and give military training to its eco-guards next year. Like the SG of MINFOF, Peter Ngea Mbeng of the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) said the media has a key role to play in the anti poaching drive, reason why they solicited starting with the journalists.

Speaking a day after the launching on CRTV Morning Safari, the Director of Wildlife in the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife, Philip Tako Eta, said the fight against illegal poaching and sale of bus meat will not be effective if the rural population does not collaborate. He called on the rural population to report cases of illegal poaching to the nearest administrative unit; police, gendarmerie, forestry delegation, Fon’s palace etc.

He urged the public to be first eco-guards given that the ministry has very limited number of guards for now. To Tako Eta, eating bush meat is the custom of rural populations and a source of protein to many: “But some level of legality should be practised in the exploitation, trafficking, commercialisation and consumption”, the Director said.

BY NDI Eugene NDI

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