18 Mar 2013

Chad elephant slaughter ‘completely shocking’

Eighty-six elephants, including 33 pregnant females, have been killed for their ivory in less than a week, according to animal welfare campaigners in Africa.

A picture taken on February 23, 2012 shows elephants which have been killed by poarchers at Bouba Ndjida National Park in northern Cameroon (Getty)

The elephants were killed near the Chad border with Cameroon.

Activists say it is the worst killing spree since early 2012 when poachers 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 Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare in France and Francophone Africa (Ifaw).

“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,” she added.

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.

Issue of ‘global significance’

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.