Elephants feared dead at world heritage site
A gang heavily armed have killed a number of elephants at a world heritage site in the Central African Republic (CAR)
WWF says that ivory poachers were seen using a scientist’s observation platform to shoot the animals who gather there in large numbers. The campaigners say they are extremely worried about the elephants in Dzanga-Ndoki national park. The head of Cites has also expressed grave concern for the animals fate.
The Dzanga-Ndoki park is located in the south western corner of the CAR, where it borders Cameroon and the Republic of Congo. It is described as a unique habitat for forest elephants in particular.
On Monday, WWF issued a warning that a group of 17 individuals, some armed with heavy calibre rifles had entered the park and were heading for the Dzanga-bai, an are known locally as the “village of elephants”. Up to 200 elephants are said to gather here daily to drink mineral salts that are present in the sands. WWF were informed by local guards that they saw armed men using the Dzanga-bai observation platform to shoot the animals. The platform is normally used by scientists and tourists.
Dr Anna Feistner from WWF said “We know that there was a lot of Kalashnikov fire over the last couple of days, and into the night,” Dr Anna Feistner who has been based in the area for the past three years continued “We now know the guys have left – Our belief is that elephants have been killed but we don’t yet know the scale.”
The elephant raid has caused alarm to the international authorities in the field of conservation. The Secretary-General of the Conventional on the Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) said it was a worrying situation. John E. Scanlon said “This imminent threat to elephants in a remote and relatively well protected area is of grave concern to Cites. I call on the international community to join forces and take co-ordinated action to avoid a new tragedy of similar proportions to the massive killing of elephants that occurred in Cameroon in 2012.” This was in reference to attacks on Bouba N’Djida national park last year where at least 300 Elephants killed.
There was a period of time were animal poaching had reduced substantially however Africa now sees a rise in illegal killing of elephants, with ivory that has been seized being said to be the highest level in 16 years.