Elephant poachers caught in Congo basin – two killed EU must step up efforts in elephant range states

Thursday, 17 March, 2011
Brussels, Belgium
Ivory poachers responsible for the deaths of at least 20 elephants last month in the Congo basin have been apprehended by government forces according to sources in Chad. As reported by IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org) last month, poaching continues to spiral out of control. The group of Chadian poachers, who are also linked with a further 7 elephant deaths in Zakouma National Park reported last year, were found on Sunday evening. Two of the poachers were arrested and two were killed.


The lucrative nature of the illegal trade in ivory means that stakes are very high for both poachers and the rangers who protect the elephants. It is difficult to know the total cost in human and elephant lives but there is no doubt that thousands of elephants die every year from poaching as well as poachers, rangers and innocent bystanders.

The Chadian brigade for the protection of environment and anti-poaching seized AK-47s, horses and 15 ivory tusks from the poachers.

“Elephants are in crisis,” said Celine Sissler-Bienvenu, an IFAW expert on elephant poaching. “The EU must step up and financially support range states in their battle to protect elephants from ruthless, well-organised poachers.”

The elephant population in Chad is under severe pressure. In 2010 there were only 2,500 elephants in Chad left, a 37.5 per cent drop in just four years from the 4,000 elephants counted in 2006.

“We cannot be certain about where this ivory was destined but the local NGO ‘SOS Elephants of Chad on the ground indicate that the most likely buyers of the ivory could be members of the Chinese community working for a nearby oil company,” continued Sissler-Bienvenu. “IFAW is doing everything it can to reduce demand in Asia with public awareness campaigns and investigations and build anti-poaching capacity in Africa to fight this cruel and deadly trade. We need the political and financial support of the EU if we are going to stop this slaughter and the horrible toll it is taking on communities in range states.”

SOS Elephants of Chad will file a complaint with the prosecutor in N'djamena as a plaintiff against the poachers.

Although it is difficult to price ivory exactly recent reports indicate that it can be sold in China for as much as US$1,700/kg[i]. Assuming a conservative average tusk weight of 10kg per tusk, the 15 tusks seized represent a street value of US$255,000.

Post a comment