The situation of forest elephants in the Central African nation of Gabon is dramatic and needs to be addressed urgently.
Experts believe elephants in this oil-rich country are on the verge of extinction because the Minkébé National Park has already lost 80% of its elephants in just ten years. That is roughly 25 000, according to independent sources, while a government study put that number at 11 100.
Gabon is now home to about 100 000 remaining forest elephants. Ivory dealers are said to ‘be in love’ with forest elephants due to their harder and straighter tusks, which cost a fortune in Asia.
Twenty carcasses of elephants were discovered in the same facility three weeks ago by Lee White and his team. White is the executive secretary of the National Parks Agency.
Ivory poaching continues to thrive in the region despite the government’s initiatives – launched in 2011 – to combat the scourge. Reports said these measures have proved to be ineffective, as poaching seems to have intensified and well organised over the last four or five years.
Attacks are increasing. Poachers seem determined more than ever to get what they want. “They shoot at our eco-guards… The park has become a place of lawlessness… And despite all our efforts, the problem continues,” White said, adding that the guards were now patrolling jointly with soldiers.
(With the assistance of RFI. Translation, additional reporting and final editing by Issa Sikiti)
Photo: A forest elephant inside Gabon’s Minkebé National Park. Credit: WikiCommons/Gary M. Stolz/U.S.