“The elephant poaching crisis – driven by insatiable ivory demand – is so severe that no area is safe, not even the World Heritage Site Dzanga-Sangha…”
Jim Leape, WWF Director General.
April 25, 2013 — World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) issued a joint call for immediate action for greater protection for wildlife and people in the violence-ridden Central African Republic (CAR), having received alarming reports from their field operations of elephants being slaughtered and their meat being sold openly.
The violence and chaos has become so intense that the two wildlife conservation organizations have been forced to evacuate conservation field workers and are calling on the Central African Republic and its neighbours to immediately increase security in the region to protect the area’s people and elephants.
It is impossible to tell exactly how many elephants are being slaughtered, initial reports suggest that large numbers are being lost. WWF has confirmed information that forest elephants are being poached near the Dzanga-Sangha protected areas, a World Heritage Site. Elephant meat is reportedly being openly sold in local markets and available in nearby villages. The security situation is preventing park staff from searching the dense forest for elephant carcasses.
Governments are meeting next week at an extraordinary meeting to discuss ways to stop the poaching that has plagued the region. Up to 30,000 elephants are killed in Africa each year for their ivory tusks for Asian markets.
WWF Director General, Jim Leape, said of the situation, “The elephant poaching 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. Heroic rangers are standing firm in the face of immense danger, but they alone cannot safeguard the special species and places the world treasures. 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. 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.”
WWF has worked in Dzanga-Sangha for 30 years and supports protected area management, gorilla research, law enforcement and tourism development. WCS has been in the area for more than 20 years, in charge of monitoring and research of the elephants of Dzanga Bai, a forest clearing containing a mineral-rich watering hole. In addition, WCS works immediately across the border in the Republic of Congo to protect the same population of elephants there where the government is working to ensure their additional security on that side of the border.
Increased Protection Essential
Cristian Samper, WCS President and CEO said “Our staff have been forced to evacuate in the chaos. I recently visited CAR and saw first-hand that without a full-time conservation presence in the region, these elephants are in jeopardy from poachers. WCS and our partners will continue to work tirelessly to protect elephants across their range. Together, WCS and WWF, are calling on the Central African Republic government to immediately increase security in the region to protect these elephants from poachers and is asking other regional governments to provide assistance to stop the killing.”
The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world’s largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. For more information please see www.wcs.org.
WWF is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. To learn more about WWF’s wildlife trade campaign visit panda.org/wildlifecrime and follow us on Twitter @WWF_media.