Gabon has agreed to help battle poaching in protected areas in the Central African Republic following an elephant massacre at a renowned World Heritage site, reports the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
According to the conservation group, Michel Djotodia, acting president of the Central African Republic (CAR) transitional government, and Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba met on May 14 to discuss a variety of issues, including the worsening ivory poaching situation in CAR. Earlier this month at least 26 elephants were killed at Dzanga Bai, a site that lies in CAR's portion of Dzanga-Ndoki National Park and is famed for its high density of endangered forest elephants. The slaughter occurred after rangers abandoned their post due to violence in the area.
After the meeting, Gabon dispatched a group led by Mike Fay, a legendary conservationist who led an epic walk across the Congo rainforest in 1999-2000, to CAR to work with the government to secure Dzanga Bai and resume conservation activities. Conservation staff have now returned to the site, according to WCS.
“The good news from Dzanga-Sangha National Park after reports of extensive elephant poaching comes as a huge relief, along with the agreement that Gabon and the Central African Republic have agreed to work together to improve management of CAR’s protected areas," said WCS President and CEO Cristián Samper. "We offer our appreciation to the leadership being shown by acting president of the Central African Republic transitional government, Michel Djotodia, and to President of Gabon, Ali Bongo Ondimba."
Under the agreement between the two countries, Gabon will assist CAR in developing a national parks agency, training staff in conservation and management of protected areas, and establishing "a legal and institutional framework" for protected areas development and management. The initiative will also aim to improve coordination between cross-border conservation programs in neighboring Congo basin countries. More....