Cameroon wildlife officials have uncovered an alarming black market trade in human body parts and elephant meat in an operation that saw the arrest of five people in Djoum – a small town in the South Region of the country.
Wildlife law enforcement officials of the area were doing regular control work when they spotted and stopped some young men, who are in their twenties, ferrying some suspicious cargo. The suspects defied the check point and escaped. The officials immediately alerted the next check point on the road to Djoum. The three traffickers carrying a bag on a motorcycle were this time arrested at the second check point. When the bag they were carrying was ripped open, elephant and human parts were discovered. Most notable among this discovery was the head of a human being that still had some hairs onit. This prompted further investigations that led to the arrest of two others within hours. Two of the five suspects who are presently under arrest are said to students of YaoundeII University.
Wildlife officials received collaboration from the Gendarmerie while a non governmenatal organisation called The Last Great Ape Organisation (LAGA) provided technical assistance during the investigations leading to the arrest of the second set of traffickers.
Reports coming in from Djoum say the products – the human body organs and the elephant meat were being ferried to Yaounde by the traffickers to serve as constitutive elements for some occultist practice by an important personality in the capital city. As in many of such practices, human body parts, baby parts etc are frequently used by unsuspecting people for black magic and witchcraft. This entails the murdering of victims. Such practices were known to be going on in neighbouring countries and this discovery is a total surprise to Cameroonians who maybe finding it difficult to accept that it is right there behind their own backyards. This is the first time this scenario has been uncovered in Cameroon where wildlife trafficking is coming under siege from law enforcement efforts by officials of the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife.
It should be noted that this operation was the initiative of wildlife officials who are in a renewed alert mode to track wildlife criminals. It is expected that this fight is going to be bolstered with the new recruits who recently received military training recently at the Koutaba air force base in the West Region of the country. They shall be required to use the recently acquired military skills to check wildlife criminality that is taking on crimes from other sectors.. Reacting to the landmark operation, the Director of LAGA, OfirDrori said “The illegal wildlife trade is constantly linked with other forms of organized crime, but it is the first time we see the link with human organs trafficking. This shocking mix of elephant meat and human body parts shows the criminalization of wildlife trafficking and the dark world of wildlife crime”.
This opens up a vast and new domain of crime in the country. It equally shows to what extend the trafficking of wildlife species can go with human parts becoming a trade item on the same level as wildlife species parts. There are generally two categories of trafficking in human parts. The first is the trafficking of fresh human organs such as kidneys etc for transplant and the second is trafficking in human parts for black magic but they have one similarity – human beings may be killed to obtain the parts. According to a story carried on the website of a British newspaper The Telegraph in January 2010, witch doctors in Uganda acknowledge such practices and the site quotes one of the witch doctor and writes “One man said he had clients who had captured children and taken their blood and body parts to his shrine, while another confessed to killing at least 70 people including his own son.”The macabre crime seems to be gaining ground in countries across the African continent and it is now carried out by people doing wildlife trafficking, giving enough reasons to those who think the fight must be engaged ruthlessly.