A scene of terror: the bodies of 89 elephants were found in Chad earlier in the month following a massacre by poachers. Photo courtesy of SOS Elephants in Chad.
Eight Central African nations have announced they will send a thousand soldiers after poachers responsible for slaughtering 89 elephants, including over 30 pregnant mothers, in Chad earlier this month. The mobilization of soldiers and law enforcement officers could be a sign that Central African countries are beginning to take elephant poaching, which has decimated populations across Africa, more seriously.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) reports that the group of heavily armored, horse-riding poachers are also believed to be responsible for killing some 30 elephants in the Central African Republic earlier in the year as well as 300 elephants in Cameroon last year.
“[The Economic Community of Central African States] (ECCAS) and its member states deserve to be congratulated for their determination to once and for all stop these elephant killers,” Bas Huijbregts, head of WWF’s Central African campaign against the illegal wildlife trade, said.
The commitment of soldiers was made after a three-day ministerial meeting in Cameroon.
Growing demand for ivory in East Asia has caused elephant poaching to rise catastrophically. Elephant populations in Central Africa have been the hardest hit; in fact a recent study in PLoS ONE estimated that 60 percent of the world’s forest elephants (found in the Congo rainforest) have been killed by poachers in the last ten years alone. Genetic evidence has shown that the world’s forest elephants are in fact a distinct species from the more well-known savannah elephant. In all, experts estimate that some 25,000 elephants were killed in 2011 for their tusks.
“Now, it is up to demand countries—principally China and Thailand—to show that they have as much courage and determination as these Central African countries,” Huijbregts said.
Dead mother with calf still attached to umbilical cord. The Chairman of SOS Elephants Chad, Stephanie Vergniault, told mongabay.com that this calf was likely born during the shooting attach by poachers only to perish. Photo courtesy of SOS Elephants in Chad.
Officials stand next to the body of slaughtered elephant, one of some seven dozen. Photo courtesy of SOS Elephants in Chad.
(03/19/2013) In what is being called the worst elephant massacre in Africa this year, poachers have recently killed as many as 89 elephants in Chad. Stephanie Vergniault, the Chairman of SOS Elephants in Chad, says the elephants were slaughtered in a two-day period late last week near Tikem, on the southwest border of Chad and Cameroon. At least 30 of the elephants were pregnant. Images from a television news report show what appear to be an elephant still connected to its umbilical cord on the ground. Separately, 12 calves were also slaughtered.
(03/14/2013) Conservationists couldn’t agree if the glass was half-full or half-empty on action to protect elephants at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Bangkok, Thailand. Elephants, especially in Africa, have faced a massive rise in poaching over the last decade with tens-of-thousands shot dead every year. Forests elephants in central Africa have been especially targeted: new research estimates that an astounding 60 percent of the world’s forest elephants have been slaughtered for their tusks in the last ten years alone. While conservationists had hopes that CITES would move aggressively against elephant poaching, the results were a decidedly mixed-bag.
(03/11/2013) Buddhist leaders prayed for slaughtered African elephants in Bangkok, Thailand last week, reports WWF. During a special merit-making ceremony, often reserved for the recently deceased, Buddhist monks, abbots, and leaders prayed for the tens-of-thousands of elephants that have been killed for their ivory tusks. Bangkok is currently hosting an international meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), where the elephant crisis is being discussed.
(03/11/2013) Elephants are vanishing. The booming illegal ivory trade is decimating the world’s largest land animal, but no place has been harder hit than the Congo basin and its forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis). The numbers are staggering: a single park in Gabon, Minkebe National Park, has seen 11,100 forest elephants killed in the last eight years; Okapi Faunal Reserve in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has lost 75 percent of its elephants in fifteen years; and a new study in PLoS ONE estimates that in total 60 percent of the world’s forest elephants have been killed in the last decade alone. But what does that mean for the Congo forest?