Four Pangolin Scales Traffickers Arrested In Tonga

By Elias Ngalame
Four people have been arrested in Tonga, in the Nde Division for trafficking in pangolin scales. They were arrested with close to 100kg of pangolin scales during an operation carried out by the Nde Divisional Delegation of Forestry and Wildlife working in collaboration with the police and the gendarmerie. The operation was technically assisted by LAGA, a wildlife law enforcement NGO.
All four were arrested during their attempts at trafficking the pangolin scales at a hotel premises in the small town. Prior investigations had enabled wildlife officieals to understand the modus operandi of the group that was made up of two women and two men who,bought pangolin scales from smaller traffickers and bushmeat sellers in Tonga and Makenenene They would proceed to sell the scales to other traffickers coming in from Yaounde and Douala. This has been going on for a couple of years.
The traffickers who are presently behind bars are expected to be charged with two counts including the killing of protected species and unlawful possession of its parts, this, according to sections 101 and 158 of the  1994 wildlife law and could face up to 3 years imprisonment. It is therefore forbidden to be in possession of either, pangolin scales, meat, live or dead pangolins.. And according to this law, police recently arrested two people in Douala transporting five bags of pangolin scales weighing over 200kg. They were moving the pangolin scales from a popular transport agency as early as 4am when police stepped in and arrested them. They two were handed over to wildlife officials in Douala for prosecution proceedings to be carried out.
Cameroon has three species of pangolins and before 2017 only the giant pangolin was classified as totally protected. But the last Conference of Parties to the Washington Convention that held in South Africa in 2016, reclassified all species of pangolins which were moved to Appendix I that gives the highest levels of protection under this UN convention that regulates trade in wildlife species. Following that decision and according to a circular letter of  January 2017 by the Minister of Forestry and Wildlife,  all pangolin species were declared totally protected.
The illicit trade in pangolin scales has witnessed a very rapid increase over the last couple of years thanks to increase demand from the Asian markets. The scales are widely used in traditional Chinese medicines and as aphrodisiacs despite no scientific evidence of any therapeutic or curative properties. This has caused a huge black market for the scales and pangolins in Africa are paying a huge price for the incessant demands for their scales.

Previous articleUNDP Cameroon Launches Campaign For Gender Equality
Next articleGov’t Spreads ENAM Graduates To City Councils