The killing spree is over but it’s no time to celebrate

The poachers rode into the park on horseback from Chad and Sudan, armed with automatic weapons and a single purpose: Kill as many elephants for their tusks as possible.

And they have succeeded in doing what they set out to do. Perhaps as many as half the elephants in Cameroon’s Bouba Njida National Park are now dead. So far, more than 300 elephants have been counted. The poachers told local villagers that they had killed 650 elephants. Whatever the final figure, the elephants were butchered for ivory that will be carved into figurines, chop sticks, signature stamps and trinkets. For the most part, the buyers will be affluent Chinese.

Cameroon deployed six hundred soldiers from the Bataillon d’Intervention Rapide, a helicopter and three ultra-light aircrafts, but it was too late. The killings started early January, but the government did not act until March when negative publicity forced it to do something to stop the massacre. The soldiers are not trained to conduct counter-poaching operations, and the poachers outgunned them, but they were able to secure the park and will remain until sometime in April.

The poachers have left the park and are probably in the Central African Republic and/or Chad.

The chief of the EU delegation in Sudan informed the Sudanese Minister for Tourism, Antiques and Wildlife that some Sudanese poachers were from the Rizeigat clan.

No surprise: Money is the poachers’ incentive. The plan is to sell the ivory on the black market and turn around and buy weapons for either guerrilla or terrorist activities, their first motivation.

You can help fight poaching, by signing our petition to say ‘No!’ to ivory.


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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
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