Score One For Pachyderms: Elephant Tramples Poacher To Death

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According to a report by Zimbabwe’s Sunday Mail, a poacher was trampled to death by the very elephant he was attempting to kill.“Now that’s what you call Karma; shame it doesn’t happen more often!”

The report said Magunje police found the remains of Solomon Manjoro fourteen days ago in Charara National Park, Gatshe-Gatshe, Kariba after a friend of his was arrested on allegations of possessing firearms illegally.

Manjoro was reportedly trampled by an elephant after he failed to shoot it during a hunting expedition. He, along with his 29-year-old friend Noluck Tafuruka, allegedly visited Charara National Park for the sole purpose of poaching between April 19 and 29.

Poachers kill elephants to collect ivory, which is sold on the black market and often smuggled into Asian countries to be used in ornaments and jewellery. Ivory sales were banned back in 1989 when poaching for the valuable substance halved the remaining number of African elephants in the 1980s.

Just recently, 26 elephants were massacred in the Dzanga Bai World Heritage Site in the Central African Republic. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said 17 individuals armed with Kalashnikov rifles entered an area locally known as the “village of elephants” with the intention to kill the large animals. This area reportedly hosts between 50 and 200 elephants each day. The WWF said that since the poachers arrived, no elephants have been seen in the area.

“The brutal violence we are witnessing in Dzanga Bai threatens to destroy one of the world´s great natural treasures, and to jeopardize the future of the people who live there,” said Jim Leape, WWF International Director General. “The Central African Republic must act immediately to secure this unique World Heritage site.”

He said the international community needs to step up to help assist the Central African Republic to restore peace in the area and safeguard the elephant population.

“WWF also asks Cameroon and the Republic of Congo to assist the Central African Republic in preserving this World Heritage Site, which not only encompasses the Bai, but also includes large neighbouring areas of these two countries,” Leape said. “The events in Dzanga Bai are a vivid reminder of the existential threat faced by forest elephants in Central Africa. Populations of this species have plummeted 62 per cent over the past ten years.”

report by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) found that the elephant population in DRC has dropped by 37 percent in the last five years due to ivory poaching. The survey found that 75 percent of the reserve’s elephant population has been killed in the last 15 years.

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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.


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