28 African forest elephants were killed in Cameroon. The government lack the resources to defend the animals from poachers.
28 Elephants were killed in Cameroon between Feb.10 and March 1, according to a World Wildlife Fund report. The elephants bodies were found stripped of their tusks in Nki and Lobeke national parks in southeast Cameroon.
This most recent massacre comes just over a year after nearly 300 elephants were found slaughtered in Cameroon in February of 2012.
African forest elephants are targeted by poachers for their long straight tusks. The tusks are smuggled out of the country and sold to be made into ivory ornaments. The largest demand for ivory comes from China, according to Reuters.
While the Cameroon government has made efforts to crack down on the poachers it is not a simple task. The poachers are often heavily armed gangs. They mow down the large creatures with automatic weapons like AK 47’s. They sell the ivory to buy arms for insurgent groups that fuel conflicts in the region.
There is little that a handful of barely armed park rangers can do to stop the killings. In December 2012 Cameroon deployed military helicopters and 600 soldiers in an effort to protect the park and its wildlife, Reuters reported.
Cameroon simply does not have the resources to stop the poachers. A petition issued by Forcechange.com to the Executive Director of the United Nations (UN) Environment Programme Achim Steiner states, “Cameroon alone is unfortunately unequipped to handle the gargantuan task of protecting this large area. They have dispatched rapid reaction forces to the area but lack the manpower to adequately cover the remote park in Cameroon’s far north.”
The petition calls on the UN to make the poaching of elephants in Cameroon’s parks an international issue. Cameroon’s population of forest elephants has been reduced to just over 2000. Continent wide there has been a 62 percent decline in the population of forest elephants in the past ten years the WWF stated, according to Reuters.
According to the petition, “The speed and brutal efficiency of this sudden uptick speaks to an organized systematic effort that could decimate already threatened elephant populations.”
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