Daily Mail, March 16, 2012
“Hundreds of elephants slaughtered at African wildlife park as horseback-riding poachers kill HALF the population”
- At least 200 elephants in Bouba N’Djida reserve killed since January
- 20 fresh carcasses found last week
- Demand from China driving Ivory Black Market
These heartbreaking photos show the extent of an elephant slaughter in the troubled nation of Cameroon.
At least half the elephant population in Bouba N’Djida reserve have been slaughtered because the west African nation sent too few security forces to tackle poachers, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said on Thursday.
In what was described as one of the worst poaching massacres in decades, and at least 200 elephants have been killed for their tusks since January by poachers on horseback from Chad and Sudan.
‘WWF is disturbed by reports that the poaching continues unabated,’ Natasha Kofoworola Quist, WWF’s representative in the region, said in a statement.
About 20 fresh elephant carcasses were discovered last week, a spokesperson for the organisation said from Cameroon.
‘The forces arrived too late to save most of the park’s elephants and were too few to deter the poachers,’ Quist said. She said the organisation regretted that a soldier was killed during a clash with the poachers.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) said cross-border poaching was common during the dry season but the scale of the killings this year was unprecedented.
‘They move 1,000 kilometers (more than 600 miles) on horseback to get to northern Cameroon because they have already wiped out the elephants of Chad and Central African Republic,’ said Richard Carroll, vice president of the U.S. chapter of WWF.
According to IFAW, poachers slaughtered as many as 400 elephants for their tusks in Cameroon since the killing spree began.
IFAW said it was not clear how many elephants remained in Cameroon but a 2007 estimate put the figure at between 1,000 and 5,000.
The government had sent up to 150 soldiers into the national park on March 1 – taking action after weeks of pressure from the fund and from the European Union.
Wildlife activists blame China’s growing footprint in Africa for an unprecedented surge in poaching elephants for their tusks. Most are believed to be smuggled to China and Thailand to make ivory ornaments.
Growing demand for ivory in China is ‘the leading driver behind the illegal trade in ivory today,’ said Tom Milliken, an elephant and rhino expert for the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC.
China has a legal ivory market that is supposed to be highly controlled but tons and tons of illegal ivory has made its way there in recent years, said the Zimbabwe-based Milliken, who spoke in a conference call with several World Wildlife Fund officers.