Catastrophe Continues in Central Africa

Elephant meat is reportedly ‘flooding’ village markets around the famous Dzanga-Sangha Reserve in southwest Central African Republic.

In the wake of last month’s coup in CAR, reports suggest that law and order have broken down to the point where anti-poaching patrols in Dzanga-Sangha are no longer possible. Indications are that poachers are not only taking advantage of the breakdown in law enforcement to reap their bloody rewards, but are doing so in conjunction with the rebel faction currently controlling the country. Although at this stage a provisional figure of at least 40 forest elephants killed in Dzanga-Sangha over the past month has been reported, the true figure may not emerge for some time.

Central African Republic was estimated to have between 68,000 and 103,000 elephants in 1977. By the time the global ban on international ivory trade was instituted just over a decade later, 23,000 remained. Today, just a few hundred are left and it is feared that in the face of such poaching onslaughts the country’s sparse populations will not remain for much longer.

This incident is believed to be the latest handiwork of the large Sudanese poaching band sweeping through the region towards the tail end of their regular annual poaching spree. Last month, we reported on 89 elephant deaths in southern Chad and last year the world reeled from the news of hundreds of elephants killed in Bouba Ndjida National Park in nearby Cameroon, with both incidents attributed to Sudanese poachers.

In the meantime, a few brave wildlife rangers remain in Dzanga-Sangha in the hope of protecting the Reserve’s core areas, such as the world famous mineral-rich watering hole Dzanga Bai. However, against well-armed rebels and poachers sweeping across the area, wildlife and the rangers standing in their path stand little chance without the intervention of the region’s governments. 

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