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Military called in to stop Cameroon elephant slaughter – but may be too late

Cameroon’s military has been called in to Bouba Ndjida National Park to take on foreign poachers that have slaughtered hundreds of elephants for their ivory, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). Reports vary, but between 200-480 elephants have been killed in recent weeks in the park by what is widely assumed to be poachers from Sudan.

“We saw this situation coming,” Basile Yapo Monssan, WWF-Cameroon’s Country Director, said. “We have consistently alerted the government on the alarming growing rate of poaching in Cameroon. This is their wake-up call.”

The poachers are heavily armed, including machines guns, and on horseback, meanwhile there are only six wildlife rangers in the massive, remote park. For two months they poachers have terrorized the park, perhaps extinguishing the estimated 400 elephants believed to be in the park.

According to WWF sources, over a hundred soldiers entered Bouba Ndjida National Park last Thursday. There is no word yet on how the operation is progressing

“The poachers must be engaged, arrested and prosecuted to send out a strong message of deterrent to poachers that Cameroon’s territory and Cameroon’s precious wildlife resources are not there to be violated,” said Natasha Kofoworola, Regional Representative of WWF’s Central Africa office.

Bouba Ndjida National Park is home to the African bush elephant (Loxodonta africana), although forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis), which some researchers argue is a separate species, is found in southern Cameroon. 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.

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(02/29/2012) 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.

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