WATCH: first ever Cote d’Ivoire elephant rescue team will face major challenges

The video above outlines just a few of the enormous challenges the IFAW team will face moving this population of elephants in the Cote d’Ivoire.

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At last, after 18 months’ worth of preparation, my latest mission with elephants is just round the corner. In a few days, accompanied by my colleagues from France, South Africa and the USA, I will finally meet Cote d’Ivoire’s forest elephants once again and more specifically those from Daloa whose path I crossed in July 2012.

This time, my mission will not just consist of counting numbers, locating these elephants and collecting witness accounts of the rural populations whose fields have been devastated, of children terrified of stumbling across these mastodons on their way to school, of village chiefs hoping for only one thing: once again finding the peace and quiet of days gone by when the elephants lived elsewhere. My mission will not be limited to promising a vision of better days to come.

This time, my team’s mission will be to move these elephants to a suitable place.  

‘Daloa’s elephants’ are a group of ten elephants and their story…sadly ordinary. For two years they have been the victims of increasing anthropic pressure in their original habitat. With no other option, they were forced to flee and set up camp in the periphery of Daloa, the third largest town in the country, wreaking havoc in the fields of local rural communities.

These elephants have been repeatedly clashing with the rural communities in order to survive.

In general, human-elephant conflicts end tragically and the animals are killed. Now, for the very first time, the government of the Cote d’Ivoire has chosen an ethical and pragmatic solution to this problem by calling upon IFAW’s support and expertise to move the elephants to an appropriate, protected area.

Up until now, the villagers have demonstrated a huge amount of patience. The elephant is the emblem of the Cote d’Ivoire, a national symbol of pride, an integral part of the identity of each and every citizen. This is what brought A’Salfo, leader of Magic System, an Cote d’Ivoire music group, to work alongside IFAW to ‘save this species that is not only an emblem of the African continent but furthermore an emblem of the Cote d’Ivoire itself’.

This large scale operation has taken a long time to implement. We have had to overcome many hurdles, we have given it our all and yet, in the run up to the realisation of all these months of preparation, it seems as though there is still so much to do and the countdown has begun!

--CSB

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Experts

Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
IFAW Elephant Expert
IFAW Elephant Expert
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
James Isiche, Regional Director, East Africa
Regional Director, East Africa
Jason Bell, Program Director, Elephants Regional Director, South Africa
Program Director, Elephants, Regional Director, South Africa
Peter Pueschel, Director, International Environmental Agreements
Director, International Environmental Agreements
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Regional Director, South Asia