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Elephant death-toll rises to almost 500 in one park in Cameroon (warning: graphic photo)

Wildlife officials have found 458 dead elephants in Cameroon’s embattled Bouba Ndjida National Park, reports the AFP. However officials fear the actual number is even higher around 480. Over the last six weeks a well-organized group of poachers has run free in the park, slaughtering elephants for their ivory tusks which will make their way to markets in Asia.

“It reflects a new trend we are detecting across many [elephant] range states, where well-armed poachers with sophisticated weapons decimate elephant populations, often with impunity,” John Scanlon, the head of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), told the AFP. To date the Cameroon government has done nothing to stop the slaughter.

Céline Sissler-Bienvenu with the International Fund for Animal Welfare describes the poachers as foreigners, likely from Sudan and Chad, where funds from poaching are often used to buy weapons, fueling local conflict. According to her, they ride on horses and wield machine guns.

Bouba Ndjida National Park is home to both the African bush elephant (Loxodonta africana) and the forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis), which some researchers argue is a separate species. The African elephant, considered one species by the IUCN Red List, is categorized as Vulnerable. Poaching for ivory and killing for bushmeat remains the number one threat to the word’s biggest terrestrial animal.

Poached elephant in Bouba Ndjida National Park. Courtesy of IFAW.

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Elephant massacre in Cameroon (warning: graphic photo)

(02/17/2012) More than 200 elephants have been slaughtered for their tusks in less than a month in Cameroon, reports the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). The group blames Sudanese poachers for cross-border raids from Chad into Bouba Ndjida National Park in northern Cameroon.

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