By Mark Caldwell
With militia groups in Africa suspected of arming themselves through the illegal ivory trade, elephant poaching is not only causing concern among conservationists, it is also a security problem.
There is an uneasy calm in Cameroon's Bouba Ndjida National Park. Military helicopters and hundred of soldiers have been deployed to protect the park and its animals following a bloody incursion into the park last winter during which poachers killed some 300 elephants for their ivory .
Army spokesperson Colonel Didier Badjeck told DW they have been carrying out air and land patrols in the course of which they seized ten horses, quantities of war munitions and 88 elephant tusks, which have subsequently been handed over to the Ministry for Forestry and Wildlife.
The soldiers say they have been working together with the population to obtain information about the whereabouts of the poachers, but most local people appear to have left the area.
Local chief Ousmaila Toukour said the soldiers had not told him the reason for their presence, but he had heard that they had come to protect the elephants.He also told DW correspondent Moki Kindzeka that the military's presence had had some impact. "Many people came here with war weapons to kill elephants. Now they no longer come," he said.
Source of funding for armed groups
In a report to the UN Security Council last month, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said elephant poaching was a growing security concern, particularly in Cameroon, the Central African Republic (CAR), Chad and Gabon. More....