Elephant conservation is imperiled by poor spatial planning, according to a new study in mongabay.com’s open access journal Tropical Conservation Science. Tracking two elephant matriarchs in and around Bénoué National Park in Cameroon, scientists found that the herds spent over half their time outside of the park, highlighting the potential for human-wildlife conflict as elephants are known to raid fields. The researchers believe better knowledge of elephant movements should play a role in future conservation planning, ensuring secure homes for both elephants and people.
Following elephants via satellite from 2007 to 2009, the researchers discovered that “similar to findings elsewhere, elephants in this study spent most of their time outside Bénoué National Park, emphasizing the importance of non-protected areas in elephant distribution and range.”
Although the elephants were never found close to human villages, they did come close to crop areas.
“Preventing additional settlement and expansion of crop land can play a major role in reducing human-elephant conflict,” the researchers write. They add that water resources must be taken into particular account when planning for elephants, who generally stick to rivers and other water sources.
The researchers note somberly that “elephant population in Central Africa is estimated to number 1,500 and is thought to have decreased by at least 76% within the last forty years, with more pronounced declines over the last decade.”
Just this year, well-armed elephant poachers took over a different park in northern Cameroon, leaving over 400 slaughtered elephants in their wake. Elephant poaching has hit its highest point since 1989.
CITATION: Granados, A., Weladji, R. B., and Loomis, M. R. 2012. Movement and occurrence of two elephant herds in a human-dominated landscape, the Bénoué Wildlife Conservation Area, Cameroon. Tropical Conservation Science Vol. 5(2):150-162.
(06/08/2012) Elephant numbers in areas surveyed by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in Central Africa halved between 2006 and 2011, hinting at the carnage wrought by the surging commercial ivory trade and demonstrating a need to boost protection efforts, said the Bronx Zoo-based conservation group.
(03/14/2012) The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has recently returned from Bouba Ndjida National Park in northern Cameroon, where at least 400 elephants have been slaughtered since mid-January. IFAW is the only international organization that has assessed the situation within the park.
(03/05/2012) 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.
(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.
(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.