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The Last Great Ape organization

The Last Great Ape organization encourages the capture of dealers in meat and products of endangered species and bringing them to justice. Then exposes the fact that the law is enforced and by that deters poachers and dealers from getting into this commercial business, educates the public, gives the bushmeat trade the deserved status of a criminal activity, and introduces a concept to the Cameroonian public – Wildlife Crime.


Ofir KitaThe Last Great Ape organization (LAGA) was born because the survival of Africa’s great apes demands urgent action. Without it, the great apes and many other endangered species will soon become extinct. LAGA was registered in Israel in December 2002 and operates in Cameroon. It is a field-based organization designed to establish the effective enforcement of local wildlife law that is critical to the survival of the threatened animals.
The Cameroonian Ministry of the Environment and Forestry (MINEF) made the courageous decision to go ahead with a pilot project in collaboration with LAGA. The collaboration seeks to create a successful model that will provide the missing ingredient in the wildlife conservation formula: creating a deterrent factor.

The Last Great Ape is the first specialized Law Enforcement NGO in the sub-region. It focuses on threatened species, and mainly on the dealers, the primary generators of the illegal bushmeat business, the ivory trade and the pet trade.
LAGA’s different activities

INTELLIGENCE – Investigators, undercover agents and informers gather precise information so that dealers in meat and the products of threatened species can be arrested in the act, producing concrete evidence for the courts.


OPERATIONS – LAGA technically assists MINEF and the forces of law and order to arrest violators and to channel complaint reports to the courts. LAGA closely supervises operations in the field. As a next step, LAGA wishes to form and train a special anti-poaching unit, building the capacity of the ministry.


LEGAL ASSISTANCE – LAGA formed a legal team to assist in the administrative procedures of prosecuting the first wildlife cases known in the courts of Cameroon.


MEDIA – LAGA puts sflashes into national TV s, national radio s and written press concerning the success of the operations and positive court rulings. The Cameroonian media informs the public that the law is actively enforced, thereby achieving education of the public on the change, increased deterrent, and classification of the illegal bushmeat trade as a criminal activity.
Preliminary Results

The pilot test project on active wildlife law enforcement and independent wildlife monitoring in Cameroon in 2003 was initiated and carried out by LAGA in collaboration with MINEF.


Over three and a half months, the collaboration produced strong cases against wildlife law violators dealing with protected animals at the rate of one per week.



 


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The collaboration yielded the first-ever prosecution and prison sentence for a wildlife law violator in Cameroon. It was also a first for most of forest Africa.


With the preliminary positive results, the collaboration received widespread interest and support at the AFLEG Ministerial meeting, in October 2003.


The Need For Developing Wildlife Law Enforcement
There are long-term solutions for the bushmeat problem - such as promotion of related education, sustainable development, transparency, corruption eradication, etc. - but for the great apes and other threatened species long-term solutions will come too late. Without immediate action, we will bid farewell within a few years to the last great ape in Cameroon.


An international conference of gorilla experts held by the Max Planck Institute last year determined that the enforcement of existing wildlife laws is the only means of preventing the extinction of the primates. The conference also concluded that past international investments have not sufficiently focused on law enforcement.
Present conservation efforts in Central Africa have failed to protect threatened species. The survival of threatened species demands a paradigm shift, one that leads to tangible results in law enforcement

Contact address:

The Last Great Ape Organization
Ofir Drori
Cameroon: Tel -00-237-9651803;

Mendong, Yaounde
Israel- 6 Kehilat Pozna St.;

Tel-Aviv, 69989; Tel-00-972-3-6476623
E mail – lastgreatape@yahoo.com

 
 
 


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