“Tell the whole world that I am about to kill those elephants. If nothing is done, you will just see one day in the news that an elephant has been Killed in Campo.”
These words are not from me. I have never seen an elephant. They are words from the chief of Campo Beach. Mr. Franklin is not really planning to kill elephants, he was just too angry because of the conflict between his community and animals that have become more recurrent. He knows the consequences of killing an elephant and is aware of the fact that they are protected species. This law is known by all the community’s members, but since the arrival of agro industrial plantations in the area, elephants in divagation and in the search of a new home, accidently found themselves in villages.
Destroying plantations and spreading terror among villagers. I was told during my trip in Campo that a man was attacked on his bike in a road leading to Akak, a neighboring village to Campo. In fact, in the Campo era, a company named Camvert is clearing the forest to plant palm oil. Their final goal is to clear 40 000 hectares of forest. A project that is not yet 50% realized but is already having damages on local communities.
A plantation destroyed by elephants
“Our forest is priceless”
I had a discussion with Chief Martin of Campo Beach in March 2023, when the new Executive Director for Greenpeace Africa was visiting communities we work with in Cameroon. At the end of the meeting, there was a very nice agenda on the table. It has been offered to the chief by Camvert. During the meetings between these companies and the traditional leaders, they often share these kits with them to maintain the relationship. We were wondering about all this when the chief said: “Oh they will not bribe me with an agenda. What is the value of an agenda compared to the whole forest that is destroyed. Nothing can replace the forest. It is priceless.”
Terror and harassment.
From Campo Beach to Akak, and in many other communities in the Campo man era, it is the same nightmare with elephants. They pay a visit, unprompted one, behind houses in the villages, in plantations, and destroying everything behind them. Some have tried to speak up and denounce it in the past and were harassed and it is now becoming a bit difficult for them to denounce again. These communities have been brutally separated from their lands.
At the end of our discussion with the chief, he made a request. “You who are up there in town, you have the right means to reach the decision makers. From my small village, I cannot. So please make sure our message is spread everywhere.”
Forests are not a commodity and should not be sold. Every single tree that falls means a lot for local communities. Apart from the fight they are obliged to lead with animals, the cutting down of trees means the disappearance of their traditional medicines, thus putting their lives in danger. Deforestation remains a nightmare for local communities because their life depends mostly on forests. Their food is coming from there, any trees that fall means an empty dish for community members.