The Effectiveness of Criminal Law in the Enforcement of Wildlife Law in Cameroon
28 Pages Posted: 25 Sep 2017
Date Written: May 31, 2017
Wildlife crime is considered to be a serious and growing national, sub-regional, regional and global problem challenging national, regional and international efforts to combat it. Burgeoning wildlife crime which has seen the increase involvement of organised criminal groups and armed groups carrying trans-boarder poaching activities is not only a threat to the sustainability of wildlife species but a food security and national, and global security problem. Cameroon is extremely rich in fauna and flora ranking fourth in terms of biodiversity richness in Africa after the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Madagascar. Unfortunately, the sustainability of her wildlife diversity continues to be threatened by inter alia mass and indiscriminate poaching activities engendered by the illegal bushmeat trade and illegal trade and traffic in wildlife species and trophies. This has caused the dissipation of the population of major wildlife species like the elephant, big cats and great apes, and the extinction of others like the black rhinoceros. In a bid to reverse this trend, Cameroon’s wildlife law criminalizes and punishes wildlife offences and this since 2003 has seen the arrest, prosecution and imprisonment of wildlife offenders. The objective of this study is to analyse the extent to which criminalisation of wildlife offences has been effective in enforcing Cameroon’s wildlife law in order to enhance sustainable management of wildlife resources in the country.
In attaining our objectives, we have reviewed and analysed both secondary sources of data; collected through desk research by way of visits to libraries, documentation centres and websites of national and international organisations working in the area of environmental law and wildlife conservation in particular, and primary data collected through interviews with staff and officials of institutions involved in wildlife conservation and wildlife crime prosecution in Cameroon. We came to a major conclusion using the ‘rational choice theory of crime and deterrence’ that the criminal process of investigation, prosecution and punishment of wildlife offences in Cameroon is not very effective as it fails to adequately deter potential and actual wildlife offenders from the commission of wildlife crimes.
It is suggested inter alia that improving on the surveillance and investigative capacity of wildlife law enforcement officials especially frontline law enforcement officials in order to increase success in wildlife crime detection and investigation, and educating judges and other judicial actors on environmental law and wildlife law in particular in order to ensure swiftness, severity and certainty of sentences, can increase the criminal enforcement system’s ability to ensure effective enforcement of wildlife law in Cameroon. This will create a greater deterrence to wildlife crime thereby offering more protection to wildlife resources in the country.
Keywords: Criminal Enforcement, Illegal Wildlife Trade, Wildlife Conservation, Wildlife Law
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