Global Impact of Ivory Poaching in Africa Addressed at Congressional Hearing

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WASHINGTON, May 24, 2012 — Further protections needed as 1.5 tons of elephant tusks seized in Sri Lanka

WASHINGTON, May 24, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Sri Lankan authorities said they seized around 350 illegal elephant tusks weighing nearly 1.5 tons in Colombo port on Tuesday – marking the single biggest ivory haul in the island nation. As authorities around the globe work to bring these culprits to justice, today in the U.S. the Senate Foreign Relations Committee led by Senator John Kerry held a hearing to examine the global security implications of elephant poaching in Africa.

“We applaud Senator Kerry for recognizing the global impact of the illegal ivory trade in Africa,” said Kelvin Alie, Program Director, Wildlife Crime and Consumer Awareness, IFAW. “Since 2004, the scale of wildlife trafficking and its subsequent impact on wildlife in African range states has increased significantly. It is vital that this illegal trade is eliminated before it causes irreparable damage to these species and the ecosystems in which they live.”

So far, 2012 has proven a bloody year for elephants. A report released this week from wildlife officials in the Republic of Congo estimates that nearly 5,000 elephants have been killed by poachers around the Nouabale Ndoki National Park over the past five years. In addition, a tragic killing spree earlier this year in Cameroon’s Bouba Ndjida National Park left more than 200 elephants dead by the time the country’s military was sent into action.

“The U.S. has long been a leader in elephant conservation through programs like those managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and USAID,” said Jeff Flocken, IFAW DC Office Director. “With more and more links being found to organized crime, regional conflict and even terrorist groups, the U.S. can now lead in fighting wildlife crime by looking at it the same way we do the arms and drug trades – as a threat to national security and global stability.”

To learn more about IFAW’s efforts to protect elephants, visit

About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal WelfareFounded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


African monkey meat that could be behind the next HIV

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Deep in Cameroon’s rainforests, poachers are killing primates for food. Evan Williams reports from Yokadouma on a practice that could create a pandemic

Deep in the rainforest of south-east Cameroon, the voices of the men rang through the trees. “Where are the white people?” they shouted. The men, who begin to surround us, are poachers, who make their money from the illegal slaughter of gorillas and chimpanzees. They disperse but make it known that they are not keen for their activities to be reported; the trade they ply could not only wipe out critically endangered species but, scientists are now warning, could also create the next pandemic of a deadly virus in humans.

Eighty per cent of the meat eaten in Cameroon is killed in the wild and is known as “bushmeat”. The nation’s favoured dishes are gorilla, chimpanzee or monkey because of their succulent and tender flesh. According to one estimate, up to 3,000 gorillas are slaughtered in southern Cameroon every year to supply an illicit but pervasive commercial demand for ape meat .

“Everyone is eating it,” said one game warden. “If they have money they will buy gorilla or chimp to eat.”

Frankie, a poacher in the southern Dja Wildlife reserve who gave a fake name, said he is involved in the trade because he can earn good money from it, charging around £60 per adult gorilla killed. “I have to make a living,” he said. “Women come from the market and order a gorilla or a chimp and I go and kill them.”

Cameroon’s south-eastern rainforests are also home to the Baka – traditional forest hunters who have the legal right to hunt wild animals, with the exception of great apes.

Felix Biango, a Baka elder, said the group used to hunt gorilla every few weeks to feed his village, Ayene, but has stopped since Cameroon outlawed the practice 10 years ago. However, he says that every week, three or four people come from the cities to ask the group to help them to hunt wild animals, such as gorillas and chimpanzees.

While the Baka no longer hunt primates for themselves, Mr Biango says that they still kill gorillas for the commercial trade and will eat the meat if they find the animals already dead.

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Rare Gorillas Caught on Camera

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Published on 9 May 2012 by 

May 9, 2012 — A group of elusive Cross River gorillas — including a chest-beating silverback — were recently captured by a camera trap in Cameroon.

© 2012 National Geographic
Video courtesy Wildlife Conservation Society

IFAW – Protect Elephants from Ivory Poaching – Please Sign Petition

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Elephants are supposed to be protected under a UN agreement that bans the international trade of ivory. But, some African countries regularly request exemptions to sell their ivory, creating demand that’s led to a black market that’s deadly for elephants.

Already in 2012, in just a single national park in Cameroon, between 300 and 650 elephants have been killed for their tusks. The total estimated population is just 3,000-5,000 in the entire country.

Last year there were an unprecedented number of seizures of illegal ivory. But the ivory trade — and the elephant poaching that feeds it — is on the rise worldwide. Leaders in the European Union need to stand up for elephants and do something about it.

Sign the petition to demand that the EU take action to stop the poaching and end the ivory trade »

Poaching and illegal ivory trade are on the increase worldwide.

In 2011 there was an unprecedented number of seizures of illegal ivory in countries around the world.

Within about 30 days in early 2012, 300 to 650 elephants were killed by heavily armed poachers in a single national park in Cameroon, out of an estimated national population of 3,000 to 5,000.

IFAW believes that even one elephant killed for its ivory is one too many. We will not stand by idly while elephants are needlessly slaughtered to meet a demand for luxury goods.

Join the fight to free elephants from the threat of ivory poaching. Please sign this petition to urge the European Union to take immediate action to stop the poaching and to help protect the world’s elephants from the continued threat of ivory trade.

Cameroon: Massacre of Elephants

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Garoua — In search of ivory…this is the creed of poachers who kill elephants in Bouba Njida, the largest and most populated national park in Cameroon. An estimated 450 elephants were recently killed, thus endangering the existence of these protected animals in Central Africa as a whole.

Everyone puts on his mask in front of a decaying baby elephant. “It’s an unbearable smell,” exclaims a visitor at Bouba Njida National Park. What is striking about the remains of this baby elephant is the absence of ivory. “As usual, they just took away the ivory. They are not interested in the flesh,” says a park ranger.


“They” refers to poachers. Within a very short time, they have killed nearly 250 elephants, according to park officials. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) believes this number is closer to 450. But any statement about the exact number of killed elephants can have far-reaching implications. A park official who rushed to state the number of elephants killed was fired from his job. “Our hierarchy does not like it when we talk in a pejorative manner about this national heritage. I do not know why…” says a park ranger who wishes to remain anonymous.

And yet, things are getting worse. The Bouba Njida National Park, covering 22,000 hectares, is the largest in the country. It shelters animals which are, for the most part, listed as protected species. These include elephants, representing nearly 95 percent of Central Africa’s elephant population.

Ivory trafficking

Protected species they may be, but elephants are still being killed by poachers. “These are individuals who know that they are protected species, but they kill them to make money,” says a park ranger who also wants to remain anonymous. Indeed, the ivory trade thrives thanks to smuggling. “The demand has become very high, especially in Beijing and Tokyo. The price has even increased… I can assure you! This is the reason why poachers kill elephants,” he says. “With ivory, you can do many things. It is used in some countries to produce aphrodisiacs, jewellery, fine art objects which are all sold for very high prices.”

Poachers operate along the border. “They use methods adapted to the forest and are very experienced. They scour the forest on horseback,” explains a soldier after returning from a mission in the forest. He belongs to the Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR), a special force assigned to the forest to fight poachers. Despite the increase in military manpower to deter attempts from poachers, protected species continue to be killed. “I again found a dead elephant in the forest,” says another young soldier. “The forest is very vast. Unfortunately, there is no road, and no map. This is what complicates and somewhat limits our field of action,” another soldier says.

Anti-poaching solutions

The only hope to end the killing of elephants by poachers seems to be more multinational cooperation between countries and wildlife conservation services. “I think we should involve the other neighbouring countries of Cameroon, so as to successfully save the remnants of the wildlife heritage left to us. If not, we will kill off all those elephants. This species is really endangered,” points out John Nditchoua, a local botanist. “It turns out that most of these poachers come from neighbouring countries like Chad and the Central African Republic,” he adds. But in the absence of a real political will, the plight of elephants in Cameroon now only depends on the full commitment of the soldiers and rangers of Bouba Njida National Park.




Categories: Homepage News, Elephants Campaign NewsCITES News

A monthly update on press coverage of the international illegal ivory trade

This month’s seizure figures represent at least 64 dead elephants, bringing the total since this time last year to at least 3,530…*

March – Africa
INTERPOL’s Operation Worthy, cracking down on illegal ivory traders is launched in 14 African countries and leads to a number of arrests and the confiscation of over 250kg of ivory as well as other wildlife products. Full report

4th March – Murtala Mohammed Int’l Airport, Lagos, Nigeria
A Chinese national is arrested in possession of ivory concealed in a teddy bear while attempting to leave the country. Full report 

9th March – Binga, Zimbabwe
The vehicle carrying a routine police patrol becomes stuck in mud, shortly after which another vehicle suffers the same fate nearby. Police become suspicious and search the second vehicle, finding 4 tusks and marijuana and arresting three occupants, one of which is Assistant Commissioner of the Zimbabwe Prison Services.  Full report 

19th-23rd March – Isiolo county, Kenya
Following a shoot-out with wildlife rangers in which 3 poachers are killed, 30kg of ivory and firearms are impounded. Full report

25th-28th March – Nr Boumba-Bek and Nki National Parks, Cameroon
Forest rangers from two national parks in southeast Cameroon descend on poachers, arresting 12 and seizing 14 tusks, 30kg of elephant meat and firearms.Full report

30th March – Guinea
Guinea sees its first ever arrests of wildlife traffickers, with 7 arrests and the seizure of 80kg of ivory and 10 leopard skins.

African elephant poaching news this month focusses on the Democratic Republic of Congo, with two world renowned National Parks being hit:

Following last month’s reports of a high level of elephant poaching in Virunga National Park, park officials announce the introduction of 5 trained sniffer dogs to the Park’s anti-poaching arsenal. The Park’s first canine assisted operation follows thediscovery of a poached elephant missing its tusks and involves 2 dogs tracking poachers over 7 km in two days. This results in armed conflict with suspected poachers and the recovery of firearms.

In a professionally organized poaching spree in Garumba National Park22 elephants including 4 calves in four groups are killed and their tusks removed.

* Customs authorities and police agencies can only do so much – seized tusks, carvings, chopsticks and jewellery represent a small percentage of all the illegal ivory in trade at any point in time. It has been estimated that in order to supply this total amount, 38,000 elephants – at least 8% of the entire African elephant population – are being killed annually.

Kenya: Two KWS Rangers Killed By Poachers in Taita

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The Kenya Wildlife Services officers in Voi are in hot pursuit of an armed gang of suspected poachers who killed two rangers on patrol in a private ranch in Taita on Friday. The rangers were on a normal patrol in Sagalla ranch when they encountered the six armed men who shot them dead.

Cases of poaching are rampnat in the private ranches bordering the Tsavo National Park with unconfirmed reports indicating that some 30 elephants have been killed in Taita ranches in the last seven months.

The rangers killed were a man and an expectant woman. They were with the David Sheldrick desnaring team in the private ranch when they were ambushed. The David Sheldrick game scouts who were not armed, were not attacked by the suspects who are suspected to be shiftas. “The shiftas thought that the armed KWS officers were pursuing them and thus they shot them dead and left the four unarmed men,” said a source.

Sources told the Star that the gangsters also made away with two firearms and several rounds of ammunition belonging to the two KWS rangers who were murder. No arrest has been made so far although there are reports that the suspects are of Somali origin thus raising concerns over security in the region among the local residents.

Cases of poaching are on the increase in the private ranches bordering the Tsavo National park and wildlife conservationists from the region have called on the KWS to increase security in the private ranches to protect the endangered elephant species. A week ago, two elephants were killed at Lwalenyi ranch in Mwatate district and the tusks removed by the poachers although KWS confirmed that they managed to recover tusks of one elephant hidden within the private ranch.

Senior warden in charge of the Tsavo East National park, Dominik Wambua confirmed that the two had been killed by the bandits but refused to comment on the lost firearms. “What I can tell you is that the rangers were killed but concerning the firearms is not important for you as at the moment since the matter is subject to investigations,” said the warden.

He said that a contingent of Anti Poaching Unit personnel from KWS were on the ground pursuing the suspects. Wambua however, said that they suspect the same gang is involved in the killing of the two elephants in Lwalenyi ranch a week ago. “The Somali grazers in this area are armed and we suspect they could be behind this although we are still investigating the matter,” he said. The deceased bodies were taken to the Moi hospital mortuary in Voi pending a postmortem examination.

via Kenya: Two KWS Rangers Killed By Poachers in Taita.

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