An unprecedented and devastating massacre is underway in northern Cameroon’s Bouba Njida National Park, where poachers have slaughtered an estimated 200-300 elephants for their tusks in the past five weeks.
Local officials confirm claims by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) that the killings are the work of armed gangs of Sudanese poachers.
More than 100 carcasses have been found in the park thus far, but continuing gunfire has impeded efforts to fully assess the situation. Reports of orphaned and abandoned elephant calves now threatened by starvation are adding to concerns.
Cameroon shares a border with Chad, which itself shares borders with Sudan and the Central African Republic — both sites of ongoing regional conflict. Insurgents in search of tusks to support arms purchases frequently cross the porous borders, particularly during the dry season.
Against professional poachers, Cameroon’s poorly trained park rangers are ill-equipped to stop the slaughter. The only long-term solution is to curtail international demand for ivory, especially in Asia.
In 2007, the Elephant Status Report of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimated that there were between 1,000 and 5,000 elephants left in Cameroon. In five short weeks, that population has been decimated.