Record elephant ivory seizure of 626 kg in Cameroon
Douala, Cameroon, 26th October—Cameroonian Customs officials last week seized 118 ivory tusks weighing approximately 626 kg, carefully hidden in a truck of merchandise at Ambam, in the Southern region of Cameroon. It is the largest seizure made in the area, where the three countries of Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea meet.
One suspect was caught at the scene and is reported to be a Cameroonian arriving from Gabon and has connections to an international wildlife trafficking network according to Cameroonian officials involved in the investigation.
The size of the seizure is above the 500 kg threshold considered under Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) guidelines to be indicative of organised criminal activity and thus warrants full follow up investigations.
“TRAFFIC congratulates Cameroonian Customs for this important seizure, and in line with CITES guidelines, we urge the authorities to carry out thorough forensic examination of the shipment and liaise with enforcement colleagues in any other countries implicated in the trafficking to try and bring the perpetrators to justice,” said Denis Mahonghol, TRAFFIC’s Director for Central Africa.
In 2016, TRAFFIC launched AFRICA-TWIX (Trade in Wildlife Information eXchange), an online tool developed to facilitate the exchange of information and co-operation between enforcement officers in Central African countries. The system includes both a secure mailing list and a database of wildlife seizures and criminal prosecutions and has around 200 active users from forestry and justice departments, Customs, police, ICPO-INTERPOL, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Customs Organization (WCO).
By means of using the AFRICA-TWIX platform, Cameroon TWIX users are now able to liaise quickly with counterparts in neighbouring countries, allowing for fast and deeper cross-border investigations into one of the biggest cases of organized wildlife crime involving Cameroon and its neighbours
A number of investigations have been triggered based on information shared on AFRICA-TWIX, including in 2016 a case where 44 ivory tusks from Gabon were seized by rangers from a vessel flying a flag of convenience in the territorial waters of Cameroon and heading to Nigeria. Subsequent investigation revealed the tusks had originated from an earlier robbery on a ivory stockpile.