Cameroon’s elephants: weep not too long, we need you to act

Faceless poachers and faceless elephants.

One group scurrying away with their bloodied tusks, hoping to sell their grim booty to another faceless middle man in a dusty corner of the world; the other group lying dead, tuskless, simply faceless.

I look across the elephant world and consider the work that we are doing. 

The elephants in Amboseli national park in Kenya are not faceless; in fact, they are the most well studied elephants in the world.  We know their names, each and everyone, and are working to protect them as they move in and out of the park, as they make their way through natural corridors leading to Tanzania where the International Fund for Animal Welfare is working to increase the capacity of rangers to protect them from poachers. 

I smile at the thought.

Kenya this week announced its intent to call for a ban on all ivory sales.The Kenyan action plan calls for an intense push at next years Conference of the Parties to CITES to take place next year in Bangkok, Thailand.

Those who seek to increase profit through the sale of ivory will surely see this position as extreme. If only the myth of the elephant grave yard were true with its mountains of ivory piled high for the taking; its residents having peacefully died and oblivious to man’s lust for vulgar trinkets.  If it were true then perhaps I could agree to label Kenya’s position extreme. But it is not true. It is not.

You have learned through my colleague’s blogs that there is a massacre of elephants taking place now and for the past two months in the African country of Cameroon. 

IFAW has partnered with a team of journalists to document this slaughter so that the world will know what happened, what is happening.  So the world will know that faceless poachers have killed individual after individual, family member after family member park ranger after park ranger. 

The elephants of Cameroon are not so well studied as those in Amboselli so I cannot call out their names for you. 

But weep for them. 

And when you have finished weeping rise up in anger.

Raise your voice to ensure that the reaction to this senseless killing amounts to more than the ‘grave concern” expressed by the CITES secretariat in their press release this week. 

I was heartened to see that the secretariat is expressing alarm but I hope that it means the parties to the CITES convention will finally make the link between promoting ivory sales and the killing of elephants for their ivory. 

If you are reading this you can do your part by sharing the news with as many friends as possible to spread the word of what is happening.

Convince all you know to turn their backs on ivory.  Add your name to our virtual elephant march which we will use to show our collective outrage.

Weep for the faceless, but weep not too long, we need you to act.


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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Dr. Elsayed Ahmed Mohamed, Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
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Executive Vice President
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Pauline Verheij, Program Manager, Wildlife Crime
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Rikkert Reijnen, Program Director, Wildlife Crime
Program Director, Wildlife Crime
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Country Representative, Germany
Staci McLennan, Director, EU Office
Director, EU Office
Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy