Understandably there has been a major outcry over the killing of hundreds of elephants in Cameroon. Here elephants, numbering into their hundreds, have been gunned down for their ivory. The finger has been pointed at armed horseman from Sudan, more than 1000 kilometres away.
According to Richard Carroll, vice president of World Wildlife Fund U.S. Africa Programs, the Sudanese raiders travel through Chad and the Central African Republic, where they have already wiped out all of those countries’ elephants, to get to Cameroon’s animals.
Within the last day even more disturbing reports began to appear from the neighbouring Republic of Congo. The country, that borders the better-know Democratic Republic of Congo as well, is home to three national parks including Nouabale Ndoki in the north.
According to reports published yesterday by the Associated Press 5000 forest elephants have been killed in the park over the last five years. Thomas Breuer, a senior technical official of the Wildlife Conservation Society project in the park, says that authorities must take action and double guards around the park.
Inside the park thing look better, where elephant numbers have apparently grown to an estimated 7000. Breuer says that while poaching around the park is intensifying, poaching inside is not as prevalent.
The announcement comes as the United States hosts a Senate Hearing today titled: Ivory and Insecurity: The Global Implications of Poaching in Africa. The hearing will include accounts from prominent members of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and Save the Elephants.
While many of us in southern Africa focus so much of our conservation efforts into the current rhino crisis we need to keep elephants in perspective here. While it seems inconceivable that countries such as South Africa, Namibia or Botswana may lose elephants at this rate, it’s a grim reality elsewhere on the continent.