Cameroon's elephants: A new status for Bouba Njida--National Park or elephant graveyard?
It’s midnight in Brazzaville where I’ve been living for the past few days, preparing for a workshop the International Fund for Animal Welfare will run in June to train law enforcement officials how to fight against ivory trafficking. The bustling capital of the Republic of the Congo has finally fallen asleep.
I should do the same but I can’t stop staring at the map of northern Cameroon I received a few hours ago. The map is strewn with figures showing the extent of the massacre that took place over the past four weeks in Bouba Njida National Park, on the north-eastern border with Chad.
1, 5, 10, 17, 45... There is no mathematical pattern or logic to the numbers. They represent the tragic count of elephant carcasses – with severed trunks and ripped out tusks – now scattered across the arid soil of what was once Cameroon’s most prized park.
In just one month, 200 out of the park’s nearly 600 elephants have been killed by dozens of Sudanese and Chadian poachers armed with machine guns and operating in gangs on horseback. Nothing seems to be able stop their reckless pursuit of ivory that began in mid-November in the Central African Republic, carried on in Chad in December, and ended in Cameroon in January.
Faced with the unprecedented increase in poaching, IFAW has been financing projects since 2009 to fight against poaching in Central African countries by strengthening the operational capacities of park rangers and conservation authorities. To this end, I will be flying to Bouba Njida and its elephant graveyard in a few days to help set up a regional information and warning system to prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again.
If 200 slaughtered elephants are enough for a wake up call today, how many more elephants will have to pay with their lives before our governments finally put an end to the ivory trade?
Take action now by signing the IFAW "Say NO! to ivory Facebook petition at elephantmarch.com