A new study released by the Gabonese National Parks Agency, WWF and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), has confirmed the worst fears over elephant populations in Central Africa.
Since 2004, poachers have killed an estimated 11,000 elephants – some 44%-77% of the population in parts of Minkébé’s National Park and its surroundings in northern Gabon.
“If we don’t reverse this situation rapidly, the future of elephants in Africa will be compromised,” Lee White, executive secretary of Gabon’s national parks agency, said in a statement issued by Gabon’s presidency.
“Some reports lead the world to believe that the ivory war has moved from the Central Africa region to other parts of the continent. This is wrong,” added Bas Huijbregts, head of the Central African strand of WWF’s global campaign against illegal wildlife trade. “What has changed is that these criminals are now also attacking the better protected elephant herds in Eastern and Southern Africa.”
“But here in Central Africa, unnoticed to the world, elephants are losing this war at lightning speed.”
According to a Feb. 5th report from National Geographic, poachers are increasingly taking advantage of government disarray in countries like Central African Republic (CAR). They added that villagers are often giving intelligence to poachers on elephant movements in return for meat.
Anti-poaching forces have been deployed in neighboring countries like Chad, but the overwhelming numbers they face are not encouraging.
“There’s no doubt …we’re seeing a spike in illegal killing and illegal trade with respect to elephant, most prominently within central Africa,” CITES Secretary-General John Scanlon noted. “We’re seeing, quite clearly, that organized crime is engaged… And rebel militia are also involved, in particular in Central Africa as a way of supplementing income for illicit activities. Responding to this threat goes beyond the capacity of your average park ranger.”
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