The timber industry in Cameroon is in many ways related to the extermination of the country's endangered species - especially the many different primates that live in the region's forests.
The director of Mefou National Park, Rachel Hogan, explains: First, companies open up forests by building roads through previously impenetrable areas. After the chain saws come poachers. But workers in the concessions - the areas where there is logging - are often involved in poaching, transportation and trade of endangered species.
Even the European owners of timber companies are directly involved in the illegal trade, said Ofir Drori, director of LAGA (The Last Great Ape Organization) in Cameroon. He works with local authorities to disclose the trafficking - and twice the organization's research led to the arrests of European business owners.
Sold to Denmark
The Greek company Panagiotis Marelis has a big concession (10-062) of 140,000 hectares of forest. In its 12 years lifespan it has delivered timber to, among others, DLH (Danish timber company) and Wijma (Dutch timber company selling on the Danish market).
In February 2008, the company's Greek director was arrested for keeping two living chimp offsprings, five parrots and a Be Brazza monkey at his home - all animals classified in the category of world's most endangered species. The man was also in possession of a hunting rifle without the necessary authorization.