Chadian government authorities have confirmed that at least 89 elephants were killed in one night – Thursday March 14-15 – near the town of Ganba in southern Chad. The slaughtered elephants included 33 pregnant females and 15 elephant calves.
Sources said that the poachers arrived on horseback and were speaking Arabic. It was estimated that there were 50 poachers taking part in the attack on the herd. There are unconfirmed reports that the poachers who under took the slaughter are from the same group that attacked elephant herds in Cameroon in February last year killing over 300 elephants.
The local WWF office in Cameroon issued a statement slamming the latest atrocity.
“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.
“In all likelihood this is the same group of Sudanese poachers who killed over 300 elephants in northern Cameroon in February 2012, forcing the country to mobilize its special forces to protect the region’s remaining elephants.”
“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. [pullquote]This tragedy shows once again the existential threat faced by Central Africa’s elephants.[/pullquote]
News of a large scale killing of elephants in Chad had started to appear a few days ago. It was thought initially that the elephant killings had been undertaken over the course of a few days to a week. Today’s statement from the Chadian officials though confirm that the attack happened over just a few hours on one night.
The governments of Cameroon, the Central African Republic and Chad will meet in Yaounde 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,” he added.
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare in France and Francophone Africa said, “This is completely shocking. Elephants in Central Africa continue to be under siege from unscrupulous poachers. The killing of 86 elephants, including pregnant cows, is evidence of the callous brutality demanded to feed the appetite of the ivory trade,”
IFAW believe that one of the reasons why it has taken so long for officials to respond to the elephant slaughter is that local people had been asking Chadian authorities for help with resolving elephant conflicts in the area. With no response for help from the authorities the local failed to report the incident for a number of days.
Jason Bell, Director of IFAW’s Elephant Programme, said it was now almost inevitable that certain regions of Africa faced the total decimation of their elephant populations.“The poaching of elephants for their ivory is an issue of global significance, and needs a global response if we are to turn the killing fields of Central Africa into safe havens for elephants. This cannot happen in a vacuum. Ivory consuming nations – notably China – have to make a concerted effort to reduce the demand for ivory in their own backyards. Otherwise, the battle to save elephants will be lost,”