The illegal trade of protected species in Cameroon continues unabated, with seizures and arrests becoming increasingly common. In late November 2023, a municipal agent in Yabassi (Littoral region) was apprehended while attempting to sell a young drill monkey acquired from a poacher. He has been remanded in custody, while the animal has been taken to Limbe Zoo for quarantine and care.
"The drill is a short-tailed monkey, similar to the mandrill but lacking its distinctive facial coloration. Found only in southwest Cameroon, south of the Sanaga River, Nigeria's Cross River State, and Equatorial Guinea's Bioko Island, drill populations have been declining for decades due to rampant poaching," explains Laga, an NGO supporting Cameroon's wildlife law enforcement for over 30 years.
The organization, which participated in the operation leading to the suspect's arrest, laments the ongoing decline of this critically endangered species. "The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies the drill as one of Africa's most endangered mammals, protected by Cameroon's 1994 wildlife law," they emphasize. Possessing or commercializing this species is illegal and punishable under the law.
Unfortunately, the drill is not the only endangered species illegally traded in Cameroon. Other protected primates like the mandrill, chimpanzee, and red colobus (classified as "critically endangered" in Cameroon) are also victims of the illegal trade, despite government efforts to curb this international phenomenon.
French media reported in September 2023 that between May and December 2022, authorities at Roissy airport in Paris seized 718 primate skulls, primarily from Cameroon, including 392 from protected species. These items, mainly destined for collectors in the US and hunting associations, were hidden in postal parcels. Experts suspect the trade is fueled by the demand for exotic food and travel souvenirs.