More than 200 elephants slaughtered in Cameroon since January - massacre continues (GRAPHIC IMAGE)
Poachers have slaughtered at least 200 elephants for their tusks in Cameroon in a continuing killing spree that began in mid-January.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW – www.ifaw.org) said an armed gang of Sudanese poachers had killed the free roaming elephants in the Bouba Ndjida National Park in northern Cameroon, near the border with Chad.
At least 100 elephant carcasses have been found in the park in the past month and ongoing shooting is making it impossible to conduct a further, detailed assessment of the situation. It is understood that more carcasses are expected to be found in unexplored regions of Bouba Ndjida.
According to reports, many orphaned elephant calves have been spotted abandoned following the shootings and concerns are high the babies may soon die of hunger and thirst. Their deaths will only compound the impact of the poaching spree on the Cameroon’s threatened elephant populations.
IFAW’s Celine Sissler-Bienvenu said it was common for armed gangs of poachers to cross from Sudan during the dry season to kill elephants for their ivory. But this latest massacre is massive and has no comparison to those of the preceding years.
“The ivory is smuggled out of West and Central Africa for markets in Asia and Europe, and the money it raises funds arms purchases for use in regional conflicts, particularly ongoing unrest in Sudan and in the Central African Republic,” said Sissler-Bienvenu.
The embassies of the United State of America, European Union, United Kingdom and France have sounded alarm bells on the Bouba Ndjida elephant killings and have called on the Cameroon authorities to take urgent action to stop the killing.
Cameroon shares a border with Chad which, in turn is bordered to the east and south by Sudan and the Central African Republic. Armed insurgents seeking elephants frequently cross the porous borders on poaching raids in Cameroon and Chad.
It is uncertain how many elephants there are in Cameroon but, according to the Elephant Status Report of 2007 of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), possibly between 1,000 and 5,000 individuals remain.
Sissler-Bienvenu said the only answer to ending the bloody onslaught against Cameroon’s elephants and those under threat elsewhere in Africa, was to kill demand for ivory especially in Asia and to ensure conservation officials in range states were provided with skills and the equipment necessary to counter professional gangs of poachers.
IFAW is about to begin a programme of anti-poaching support for rangers and law enforcement officials in Chad’s Sena Oura National Park – Sena Oura NP lies along the Chad/Cameroon border. IFAW’s support is intended to help establish a coordinated approach to safeguarding elephants in the region.
“Since 2009 IFAW has provided anti-poaching assessment, training and support to rangers and conservation officials in central African countries which face severe challenges in the fight to end the bloody and cruel illegal ivory trade,” said Sissler-Bienvenu.
“What these countries now need is the commitment of the international community to financially support these highly skilled and motivated trainees to be able to meet the task of protecting elephants.”
NOTE: In November 2008 China and Japan bought 108 tonnes of ivory in a "one-off" sale from Botswana, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe. These legal sales provide the cover necessary for the illegal trade in ivory to flourish. IFAW runs anti-poaching projects to protect elephants where they live.
Besides policy work and supporting wildlife rangers and anti-poaching patrols in Kenya’s Tsavo National Parks, Malawi’s Liwonde National Park and elsewhere, IFAW has established a roving anti-poaching assessment and training team.
We focus on Central and West African countries with serious elephant poaching problems and a desire to solve them. Our expert anti-poaching assessment team first undertakes an anti-poaching needs assessment at a specific site to identify capacity constraints and equipment needs. Prior to sending in the team, IFAW negotiates an agreement with the government that outlines the terms of IFAW’s intervention and grants government permission.
About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter