You hear them before you see them… rumbling and trumpeting. Dozens of elephants gather near a watering hole in a clearing, mining for vital mineral salts and mud bathing to protect their skin.
But, a few months ago, heavily-armed poachers, driven by the greed of illegal wildlife trade, slaughtered more than 300 elephants in a scene like this in a national park in Cameroon.
(c) National Geographic – March Massacre
The sad truth is, we lose tens of thousands of elephants a year in Africa to wildlife crime. But, genuine conservation organizations are determined to break the trade chain of illegal ivory that goes from Central Africa to Asia and to reduce the demand for endangered species products in Asia.
And you can play a critical role in the fight to protect wildlife from this grisly trade – your support has never been more important. Please join the campaign to protect wildlife and wild places around the world, either by joining the Save Our Planet Network or by joining legitimate conservation bodies.
On March 14-15, at least 86 elephants were killed in Tikem, near Fianga in the Mayo Kebbi East region of southwestern Chad, close to the Cameroon border. Among the victims were more than 30 pregnant females, many of which aborted their calves when they were shot. The calves were left to die, and reportedly some were shot. It’s too sickening to even comprehend.
The massacre occurred in the closing hours of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) 16th Conference of Parties (COP16) meeting (held in Bangkok from March 3-14), where the topic of elephants was high on the agenda.
The timing was also just weeks after the discovery of 28 elephant carcasses, all stripped of their ivory tusks, in Cameroon’s Nki and Lobeke National Parks and at least 15 carcasses across four separate locations in Central African Republic.
All these incidents followed numerous reports of columns of Sudanese poachers crossing Central African Republic and heading toward Cameroon and Chad.
Both the Chad and Cameroon governments had responded to this advance notice. In December, the Chad government sent soldiers and military aircraft to patrol the region and Cameroon deployed its Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR), a special forces military unit. But neither was able to find the poaching gangs and stop them.
“We’ve been aware of the poachers’ presence and movements since last November in the Central African Republic, but given the means at hand, and difficulty of working in this vast, remote landscape, it has been very challenging to fully address the situation,” says Richard Ruggiero, Chief, Branch of Asia and Africa at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Right now, organized criminal networks are systematically emptying our forests to take advantage of high profits and low risks. Make no mistake, wildlife crime is big business with little consequence.
And these are the dedicated people, men and women – who work around the clock under severely dangerous and life-threatening conditions to try and ensure that our wildlife – the earth’s wildlife – are free to roam their home – after all they were here first. HUGE RESPECT to these and the thousands of others throughout Africa, including my beloved daughter and the Rangers with whom they work who risk their lives daily….
We neither solicit nor accept donations towards our work but your active support can help to shut down the trade as well as protect species and habitats worldwide.
The challenges we face in protecting species like elephants are complex. We’re working with governments, providing moral support to rangers and educating supporters like you about the serious nature of these wildlife crimes. Together, we can ensure a future for even the most vulnerable wildlife. Please consider joining us in our campaign and encouraging your friends and acquaintances to do the same.
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