Forest elephants decline in critical sanctuary

IFAW conducted a field assessment of Cote d'Ivoire forest elephants in 2012 and spearheaded their relocation in early 2014.Like their savannah-dwelling cousins, forest elephants in Central Africa are facing a devastating decline in numbers, as a new study shows.

In Gabon, Minkébé National Park was considered one of the most critical sanctuaries for forest elephants and used to hold the highest densities of elephants in Central Africa. Unfortunately, this situation has changed drastically; scientists recorded an 81.5 per cent decline in elephant numbers over 10 years.

While the park harboured a population of 35,404 elephants in 2004, by 2014 figures had dropped to 6,542 elephants.

The root cause of this precipitous drop is poaching, both within the country and across the borders of Cameroon and Congo, as strong evidence suggests. In fact, 161 carcasses of poached elephants were found between 2012 and 2015, and a significant number of international seizures have been of ivory that links back to the tri-national area of Cameroon, Gabon and Congo.

This loss, unforeseen by experts, is considered a huge setback for the preservation of the species. It is time that the international community takes action and engenders the support necessary to address the crisis.

--AM

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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
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Beth Allgood, Country Director, United States
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Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
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Dr. Joseph Okori
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Faye Cuevas, Esq.
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