By Yuh Timchia
Cameroon’s Special Forces have been deployed to foil an imminent raid by Sudanese poachers who for eight weeks earlier this year slaughtered half the population of elephants for their ivory at one of the country’s wildlife reserves.
The poachers have been attempting to take park guards in northern Cameroon by surprise by exploiting greater ground cover that has sprouted in the rainy season, according to international conservation body World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), which said it had been informed by high ranking officials of the Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR) on Friday.
"This is the same group of poachers that in early 2012 travelled more than 1,000km on horseback from northern Sudan across the Central African Republic and Chad to kill over 300 elephants in the Bouba N’Djida National Park in northern Cameroon," WWF said.
The heavily armed and well coordinated poachers, who had told local villagers of their plans to kill as many elephants as possible, claimed they had killed as much as 650 out of some 1,000 that roamed the park.
The elephant population in Cameroon and in central Africa is estimated to have been halved, mainly by poachers, between 1995 and 2007 with the number of elephants killed still on the rise.
Wildlife officials say the military operation, said to be the first of its kind in Cameroon, is a last-ditch shot at saving the last herds of the species now in danger of extinction in this part of Africa. More....