Emergency: large number of elephants being poached in the Central African Republic (warning: graphic image)

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WWF and the Conversation Society (WCS) are issuing an immediate call for action as they report that poachers are killing sizable numbers of forest near the Dzanga-Sangha protected areas in the (CAR). The two large conservation groups have evacuated their staff from the area after a coup, but local rangers are still trying to determine the scale of the killing while defending remaining elephants. In total the conservation groups believe the parks are home to over 3,000 elephants.

“The elephant crisis—driven by insatiable ivory demand—is so severe that no area is safe, not even the World Heritage Site Dzanga-Sangha where both WWF and WCS have now worked for the conservation of elephants for decades,” Jim Leape, WWF Director General said. “Heroic rangers are standing firm in the face of immense danger, but they alone cannot safeguard the special species and places the world treasures.”

The crisis is believed to have been kick-started by the ousting of long-time president, François Bozize. Poachers appear to be taking advantage of the resulting governmental chaos, while the Associated Press reports that the rebels may be connected to the elephants poachers.

Although the conversation groups don’t know yet how many elephants have been killed, according to a press release they believe the number “may be extensive.” Patrols through the forest have stopped due to instability, and the groups report that elephant meat is being sold in the area openly.

Forest elephant killed by poachers being inspected by game guards. Dzanga-Ndoki National Park, Central African Replublic (CAR). Photo by: © Martin Harvey/WWF.

“Given the total absence of any type of law enforcement and rule of law in the area, there is elephant meat all over the place,” Bas Huijbregts, WWF policy head against poaching in , told the AP.

WWF and WCS have jointly called on the Central African Republic (CAR) government and neighboring states for increased security in the region not just for the elephants, but to protect locals from worsening lawlessness and .

The slaughter of elephants for their ivory has escalated in recent years as demand for ivory has shot-up in East Asia. Estimates predict that some 30,000 elephants are being killed annually for their tusks. have taken the brunt of the illegal trade. A recent study found that poachers, working in increasingly sophisticated networks with heavy gunnery, have killed an astounding 62 percent of the world’s in the last ten years. According to some scientists, (Loxodonta cyclotis) are a distinct species from the more well-known bush elephant.

To deal with the continent-wide elephant crisis, governments are meeting next week to discuss ways to stem the killing.

“When meeting next week, Central African governments must urgently join forces against this criminal activity that is also threatening the stability and economic development of their countries,” says Leape. “I encourage them in the strongest terms to take a stand against wildlife crime and together declare that poaching and illicit trafficking will not be tolerated.”

Forest elephant in the Dzanga-Ndoki Dzanga-Sangha protected areas in the Central African Republic (CAR). Photo by: © Cristian Samper.

Forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis) 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.

This article was written for and reposted on Focusing on Wildlife.

Supertrooper

Founder and Executive Editor

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Anne Grice

And China says it will close the sales of ivory in the domestic market "Eventually" – China when would this be, after Elephants have been wiped off of this planet? And after China has imported hundreds of fragile baby elephants ripped away from their mothers and taken to China to suffer a fate worst than death as they suffer from poor health but must be trained by the most brutal methods so they can entertain people of such low mentality! Then China will secure its uninterrupted supply of what it calls "white gold" for its ridiculous trinkets and dead carvings!… Read more »

Anne Grice

Bloody unintelligent criminals killing their assets to satisfy the Chinese with ivory then what? How will you people survive ?

Johnny Knoopdenvogel
Johnny Knoopdenvogel

They should issued free permits to those trigger happy trophy hunters who are to go hunt a poacher . At lest then they should not be accused and cowards who is destroying our planet's wildlife… more competition , skills and greater experience , and the poachers who may shoot back makes it a lot more fun . This is whish full thinking about the trophy coward hunters !!… the task is and will be for our well respected rangers to combat this evil act … these are the brave people . Here is the difference between these 2 groups –… Read more »

lgcatwoman19
lgcatwoman19

What can we do to stop all this before it is too late? Every single poached elephant is a devastating loss to this earth, each one senseless death another step towards their extinction.

Ian Enright

This is disgusting and must stop