Slaughter in the CAR

In the last post I wrote, “Fighting for Elephants“, I reported on a small inkling of hope for the forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis) in central Africa, as the central African states pledged to send 1,000 soldiers to help mitigate the rampant poaching in the area after 89 elephants were killed in Chad. Unfortunately this hope has been misplaced.

WWF have reported that up to 17 poachers have entered Dzanga-Ndoki National Park in the Central African Republic (CAR). There are reports of these poachers using the observation platforms, set up by scientists to monitor the wildlife at Dzanga bai, to shoot at elephants. Currently it is unknown how many have been killed, but as up to 200 elephants have been known visit the bai on a daily basis, I can’t imagine things are going to end well. These poachers knew exactly where they wanted to go, and even stopped to ask WWF-supported local researcher for directions to what the locals call the “village of elephants”.

I’m genuinely shocked by this news. Dzanga bai is an incredible place, unknown to scientists until recently, but found to be a major aggregation site for where elephants come from all over the central African block to socialise and reaffirm social bonds. And its not just the elephants that gather here either. Dzanga-Ndoki NP has the highest known concentration of western lowland Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla), and flourishing populations of antelope and birds (the national park has been designated an Important Bird Area, of global significance).

Dzanga bai, as it should be. Photography: Kananga

Dzanga bai, as it should be. Photography: Kananga

But I think what is more worrying about this news is that even this world heritage site, one of the most studied sites in central Africa, has not been able to escape the ivory trade. Both WWF and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), two of the biggest conservation organisations in the world, both support projects in Dzanga-Ndoki NP. Yet even with scientists and tourist a like flocking to watch the incredible wealth of wildlife which visit the bai each day, the wave of poaching and slaughter is continuing to spread though this region, leaving only detestation in its wake. It is with a heavy heart I wait for more news from Dzanga.
Over and out.

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About zoologyknowledge

Shortlisted for the Wellcome Trust Science Writing Prize 2013. Graduate Biologist with an interest in sharing science news and stories. Special interest in rainforest ecology.

Posted on May 9, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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