Armed poachers opened fire on patrolling forests guards and soldiers in the East region last Wednesday, killing one and wounding another.
The poachers left behind nine elephant tusks as they fled the shooting scene inside Lobeke National Park, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said.
“The fallen ranger was in a joint anti-poaching patrol alongside three of his colleagues and two soldiers of the Cameroon army when they come under fire on December 7, 2016,” WWF Central Africa said in a Facebook message.
WWF identified the slain ranger as Ngongo Bruce Danny and the wounded as Ngozo Martin, a soldier.
The poachers had Kalashnikovs, WWF added.
Authorities have arrested at least one person in connection to the killing, which took place on the last day of the team’s ten-day patrol.
Achille Mengamenya, the Lobeke Park director related the incident in a letter to the minister of wildlife and forestry Philip Ngole Ngwesse.
He said the poachers ambushed the team.
“The ranger lost a large amount of blood, he could not hold on and succumbed to his wounds in the forest,” the director said.
Rangers often spend long periods in the forest, and face dangers ranging from verbal assaults to murder.
“The killing of rangers has always been going on,” said Eric Tah, deputy director of the wildlife law enforcement organization LAGA.
“With the increasing profile of wildlife crime, which has caught media attention, people are now becoming aware of these killings.”
Rangers are well-trained but often poorly protected against poachers that are increasingly armed with automatic rifles.
“It is a tough job,” says Tah. “You must be committed to do it.”
Poachers go after elephant more than many other wildlife species because of the pricy nature of tusks and products such as ivory.
“In February 2012, heavily armed poaching gangs from Sudan massacred more than 50% of the elephants in northern Cameroon’s Bouba N’djida National Park,” reports the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF).
Cameroon has deployed elite soldiers in parts of the country, particularly the north, to fight elephant poaching, after a string of massive slaughters.