At least 65% of animals – all endangered species – have disappeared from the Garamba National Park located in the north-east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), UN-funded Radio Okapi reported, quoting figures from the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN ).
The animals include rhinos (not one left from over 500 that lived there in 1976), while the population of giraffes, buffaloes and elephants seems to have declined sharply.
Only 1800 elephants are left in the park from the initial number of 25 000 in the same period, while the number of giraffes has gone down to 22 from 370, curator park Christian Amboya was quoted as saying.
A total of 22 elephants have recently been killed by highly-trained poachers, ICCN has reported.
There are currently 4 000 buffaloes in the park out of the 60 000 heads at the end of the 70s.
Amboya has launched a desperate plea to local populations, saying that they needed to take ownership of the protection of this site by denouncing poachers and educating community members about combating poaching.
The DRC, which has fought a 12 year-deadly war against rebels backed financially and logistically by Rwanda and Uganda, appears to be unable to fight poaching as the country has no expertise or budget required to launch such a daring campaign.
As the war spread to almost all northern and eastern corners of the country, people and animals alike bore the brunt and the government lost control of many of the country’s natural resources which fell under the control of rebels and foreign armies.
Some well-placed sources in the Congolese government have said that many animals may have been stolen by rebels and Rwandan and Ugandan soldiers and taken there, and eventually sold to these countries’ parks.
Photo by Daily Mail. It is believed that Congo’s rhino population has completely disappeared.