By Matt McGrath
The country is home to over half of Africa's forest elephants who are highly valued because of the quality of their tusks.
Campaigners say the situation in what was believed to be a safe haven for these elephants is "out of control."
They blame the ongoing high demand for jewellery and other ivory products in Asia.
Continue reading the main story “Start Quote If we do not turn the situation around quickly, the future of the elephant in Africa is doomed”
Prof Lee White ANPN Gabon holds about 13% of the forests of Central Africa but it is home to around 40,000 forest elephants, a smaller species that are attractive to poachers because their ivory is tinged with pink and is very hard.
The new research has been carried out by the Gabonese national parks agency (ANPN) alongside WWF and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
Cross border poachers Dr Fiona Maisels of the WCS explained that they had analysed the population of elephants in the Minkebe national park and compared it with their data gathered in the same area 9 years ago.
"Between 44-77% of the elephants have been killed," she said. "In other words 11,100 elephants have been lost since 2004."
Much of the attention on elephant poaching has been in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo but with demand for ivory growing and prices rocketing in recent years, poachers have sought out the forest elephants in the vast expanses of Minkebe.
And despite the efforts of the Gabonese government to bolster anti-poaching patrols, according to Bas Huijbregts from WWF, the authorities are failing.
"In an area like Minkebe which is about 30,000 sq km, that's about the size of Belgium, without any roads. It is very difficult to track poachers here," he said.
The authorities believe that between 50 and 100 elephants per day were being killed in the park in 2011. Much of the poaching has been carried out by gangs from neighbouring Cameroon, with ivory carried across the northern border by porters. More....