Nearly 300 elephants slain in Cameroon for ivory

Channels Television  
Updated February 22, 2012

Cameroon’s Minister of Forestry and and Wildlife said that Ivory dealers in the north of Cameroon have slaughtered nearly 300 elephants in a bid to secure thier tusks since mid-January, a claim that was backed up by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) after an armed gang of Sudanese poachers had killed the free-roaming elephants in the Bouba Ndjida National Park, on Cameroon’s border with Chad.

Park officials say many orphaned elephant calves have been spotted, and concerns are high that the babies may soon die of hunger and thirst.

One park official, Bouba Jadi, told CNN the deaths are worsening the situation for Cameroon’s already threatened elephant populations. According to official estimates, there are between 1,000 and 5,000 elephants in Cameroon.

Officials saw at least 100 elephant carcasses. More carcasses are expected to be found in unexplored regions of the national park. A massive crackdown on poachers has been launched, according to officials in the west Central African nation.

Reports show that that the killing of elephants has been on but its been on the high since January and cannotbe compared to those of the preceding years.

She added that the ivory is smuggled out of West and Central Africa for markets in Asia and Europe, and money from ivory sales funds arms purchases for use in regional conflicts, particularly ongoing unrest in Sudan and in the Central African Republic.

Cameroon shares a porous border with Chad. Armed insurgents from Sudan and the Central African Republic seeking elephants frequently travel through Chad.

Observers in Cameroon have been blaming the raids on poorly trained and ill-equipped park guards, who are pitted against professional gangs of poachers.