Elephant poaching pandemic featured in latest National Geographic

Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Yarmouth Port, MA
The serious elephant poaching problem plaguing the Zakouma National Park region of the Central African nation of Chad is featured in the March 2007 issue of National Geographic magazine.
Entitled “Ivory Wars: The Last Stand in Zakouma,” the piece highlights the story of one mother elephant tagged “Annie” and her travels through and outside of Zakouma NP, in search of food and water sources. Annie was radio-collared and subsequently tracked until her demise to poachers only a few months later.
 
The danger affecting the elephants of this area is not specific to Zakouma NP, but rather to the region as a whole, and especially the periphery of the park which is outside the jurisdiction of Zakouma NP rangers. In August 2006, Annie was killed along with eight other elephants in that area. Sadly enough, this was not an unexpected conclusion in light of the rampant poaching which has taken ahold of many African nations. Between March 2005 and August 2006, over 26 tons (24 tonnes) of illegal elephant ivory was seized, representing approximately 20,000 elephants, most of which is known to have originated from African elephants.
 
“A live animal is worth more than a dead one,” points out Michael Wamithi, Program Manager for IFAW’s (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org) global elephant campaigning. “Elephants play a significant role in Africa’s tourism industry, and help to generate millions of dollars annually.” IFAW, a worldwide animal welfare organization dedicating significant resources to elephant protection, currently funds Zakouma NP. Support includes park ranger law enforcement training, the purchase of equipment, horses, and materials, as well as animal feed and healthcare. IFAW is also visible throughout various other African nations, including Tsavo National Park in Kenya, where IFAW is partnering with Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) on a major restoration/enhancement project.
 
In response to this increased poaching of African elephants, a proposal by Kenya and Mali has been submitted to CITES (Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species) calling for a 20 year moratorium on the elephant ivory trade. The proposal will be up for discussion at the CITES 14th Conference of the Parties, in June in the Netherlands. IFAW strongly supports this 20 year moratorium on ivory.

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