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The attack occurred on September 27, near Lobéké National Park, close to Cameroon's border with Central African Republic. WWF supports gorilla conservation programmes in the park, providing critical funds, training and equiptment to forest rangers.
 
This is the saddest day in the history of conservation in Southeast Cameroon," said Basile Yapo, Country Director at WWF Cameroon.  "It is a clear testimony of the danger we face in this landscape and this incident calls for firm action to be taken against poachers."
 
WWF has been informed that the two men were on patrol when they discovered the carcasses of two critically endangered Western lowland gorillas in a forest camp. The rangers confronted the poachers on their return to the scene, and the gang of six or more men opened fire on the unarmed forest guards, both of whom sustained multiple gunshot wounds."
 
Ranger Jean Fils Mamendji, was hit in the arm and shoulder, but managed to escape. Mamendji's partner Zomedel Pierre Achille, a 12-year veteran of the patrol, was hit in the chest and back and Mamendji was forced to leave him behind.
 
A rescue mission was dispatched and searched through the night for Achille.  His body was located the following day, having been stripped naked and tied to a tree by the assailants.  Evidence suggests that the victim was severely beaten about his head and body before his death.
 
Retaliatory attacks by poachers against rangers have intensified in recent months in response to increased law enforcement efforts by the government.  Illegal activity has been particularly prevalent in Southeast Cameroon, where dedicated WWF teams are working to support the government efforts but victims of the violence have not been restricted to forest rangers.  Earlier this year a group of six Baka pygmies were shot and wounded by poachers.
 
"Rangers are putting on a uniform every day to protect their wildlife, their forests and ultimately, the wellbeing of their communities from individuals who seek only to commit criminal acts such as trafficking protected species," said David Greer, WWF's African Great Ape Co-ordinator..
 
"Law enforcement efforts at all levels need to be dramatically scaled up, especially in judicial systems," Greer says.  "That is where a criminal deterrent can be established that will not only save Africa's dwindling wildlife, but will also protect its people from lawless violence such as this."
 
"As this case goes well beyond wildlife crime, we expect that our government partners will take the necessary steps to locate and bring these assailants to justice, while making a firm statement that criminal behavior will receive swift and severe punishment," Greer continues.  "Anything less would dishonor the memory of our brave, fallen colleague."
For further information please contact:
George Smeeton, Senior Press Officer, WWF-UK
Tel: 01483 412383 Mobile: 07971 705 2948"