CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA -- (Marketwire) -- 03/18/13 -- Poachers in Chad have slaughtered 86 elephants, including 33 pregnant females, in less than a week.
The elephants were killed close to the Chad border with Cameroon and their ivory hacked out. It is the worst killing spree of elephants since early 2012 when poachers from Chad and Sudan killed as many as many as 650 elephants in a matter of weeks in Cameroon's Bouba Ndjida National Park.
"This is completely shocking," said Celine Sissler-Bienvenu, Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare in France and Francophone Africa (IFAW - www.ifaw.org).
"Elephants in Central Africa continue to be under siege from unscrupulous poachers. The killing of 86 elephants, including pregnant cows, is evidence of the callous brutality demanded to feed the appetite of the ivory trade," said Sissler-Bienvenu.
Information received by IFAW indicates that local communities close to Fianga city, in south-west Chad, where the elephants were killed have been asking their government for help in resolving local elephant conflict issues for at least two years.
No support has been provided, which may be why the elephant massacre was not reported for some days - the killing of the elephants by poachers offering some sort of relief to local farmers unable to protect their crops and livelihoods from being damaged by elephant herds.
Jason Bell, Director of IFAW's Elephant Programme, said it was now almost inevitable that certain regions of Africa faced the total decimation of their elephant populations.
"The poaching of elephants for their ivory is an issue of global significance, and needs a global response if we are to turn the killing fields of Central Africa into safe havens for elephants. This cannot happen in a vacuum. Ivory consuming nations - notably China - have to make a concerted effort to reduce the demand for ivory in their own backyards. Otherwise, the battle to save elephants will be lost," said Bell.
In early 2012, poachers from Sudan and Chad, riding on horseback and with camels to carry their booty, killed almost 650 elephants - about 50 per cent of the elephant population of Cameroon's Bouba Ndjida National Park.
Poaching parties are typical during the dry season when heavily armed groups of poachers with military issue automatic and semi-automatic weapons, launch well co-ordinated attacks on elephant herds for their ivory.
In 2012 IFAW signed a memorandum of understanding with the Republic of Chad to provide anti-poaching support to the Sena Oura National Park, including conducting training sessions for conservation officers. Sena Oura NP in Chad is part of a cross-border national park which has Bouba Ndjida National Park in Cameroon on the other side.
"Cross border cooperation and intelligence-led enforcement are the only way we can bring these ivory traffickers to justice. It is too big a problem for any one country to tackle," said Kelvin Alie, Director of IFAW's Wildlife Crime and Consumer Awareness Programme. "We need range states, transit countries, and destination countries to share their law enforcement resources, including intelligence, or we'll never be in a position to shut down the kingpins of the international ivory trade.
About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in distress all over the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW provides hands-on assistance to animals in need, works to prevent animal cruelty, and advocates protecting wildlife and their habitats. For more information, visit our website: www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
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