17 poachers allegedly enter elephant stronghold in Congo, conservationists fear massacre

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Local researchers and guards say 17 armed elephant poachers have gained access to Dzanga Bai, a famous large clearing and waterfole where up to 200 forest visit daily in the (CAR)’s Dzanga-Ndoki National Park. WWF, which works in the region but has recently evacuated due to rising violence, is calling on the CAR to rapidly mobilize its military to stop another elephant bloodbath in . are being killed across their range for their ivory, which is mostly smuggled to East Asia.

According to WWF, two local researchers encountered three armed poachers in the forest looking for Dzanga Bai, known locally as “village of elephants.” In addition, wildlife guards report that they saw poachers on a viewing platform in Dzanga Bai firing at elephants.

Poachers appear to be taking advantage of government instability in the CAR. Long-time president, François Bozize, was overthrown by rebels in the country in late-March. According to the Associated Press, current elephant poachers may be linked to rebels.

“Unless swift and decisive action is taken, it appears highly likely that poachers will take advantage of the chaos and instability of the country to slaughter the elephants living in this unique World Heritage Site,” Jim Leape, WWF International Director General, said in a statement. “Wildlife crime is not only a consequence of instability, but a cause. It fuels violence in the region, in a vicious circle that undermines the stability of these countries and their economic development.”

But the CAR is not alone, elephants are being decimated across for the illegal . Estimates currently predict that around 30,000 elephants are killed annually. Sixty two percent of forest elephants, those found in Central and West African forests, have been lost in the last decade alone.

“Central African Republic has to immediately follow through on its promise of two weeks ago to mobilize troops to end in the region,” Leape adds. “WWF also calls on the international community to immediately provide assistance to Central African Republic in restoring peace and order in the country, and to preserve its unique natural heritage.”

Elephants in Dzanga Bai: forest elephant displaying rounded ears and straight trunk in an intimidating gesture towards another elephant in Dzanga Bai, a forest clearing in Dzanga Sangha Protected Area, CAR. Photo by: © Carlos Drew/WWF.

Forest elephant spraying water. Dzanga-Sangha Special Reserve. Central African Republic. Photo by: Photo by: © R. Isotti, A. Cambone – Homo Ambiens/WWF.

This article was written for Mongabay.com and re-posted on Focusing on Wildlife.


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Edward Lee

I like to think that a country can deal w/17 armed killers…if they care? The world is watching!!!

Philippa Elaine Castle

Oh boy, the human population is really in trouble!

Peter Borchert

Hard to come to terms with, but Africa is losing at least one elephant every 20 minutes to poaching, month in and month out.

Alexander Smith

Thanks for posting this article and getting the word out.

Doris Charles

This is fetching misery to the congo forest elephants poachers have got into the Dzanga Bai where there is a large clearing and waterhole for the forest elephants that come and drink at the waterhole, thank you for the insight of the forest elephants.