Yaoundé, Cameroon - At least 89 elephants were killed by poachers last week in Chad, according to local officials, in one of the region’s worst poaching incidents since the massacre of over 300 elephants in Cameroon’s Bouba N’Djida National Park in February 2012.
According to Chadian government authorities, at least 89 elephants were killed on the night of March 14 – 15 near the town of Ganba in southern Chad.
Among those killed were 33 pregnant females and 15 calves.
The poachers, which rode on horseback, numbered around 50 and spoke Arabic, the officials said, adding that the Chadian army had been dispatched to stop these criminals.
“This tragedy shows once again the existential threat faced by Central Africa’s elephants,” according to Bas Huijbregts, Head of the Central Africa strand of WWF’s campaign against illegal wildlife trade.
“This incident in Chad highlights the need for a regional approach to fight poachers, one that needs to be implemented on the ground as urgently as possible to stop these poachers,” Huijbregts said.
The governments of Cameroon, the Central African Republic and Chad will be meeting in Yaoundé this week to develop a regional anti-poaching strategy.
“We urge governments to start putting in place this plan as early as next week, to safeguard the region’s last elephants and rid it of this poaching threat once and for all,” Huijbregts said.
“At its root, though, it is ending demand for ivory in countries like Thailand and China which will ensure the survival of Central Africa’s elephants,” Huijbregts added.This month's Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), which closed last week, saw decisions from world governments to start taking action against countries doing little or nothing to stop the illegal ivory and rhino horn trades.
Governments mandated China, Kenya, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Uganda, Tanzania and Viet Nam – the countries of highest concern in terms of their failure to clamp down on large-scale illegal ivory trade - to submit time-bound plans to deal with the problem in two months, and make progress before the next CITES meeting in summer of 2014.