The Secretary-General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), John E. Scanlon, expressed his grave concern over the recent reports of the deteriorating situation in the Central African Republic. Information suggests that armed groups have entered and may have started to massacre forest elephants in a World Heritage Site located in the south-western corner of the country bordering Cameroon and the Republic of Congo.
According to the WWF and various media reports, a group of 17 armed individuals, some of them armed with heavy calibre rifles, entered the Dzanga-Ndoki National Park on 6 May 2013 and headed for the Dzanga Bai, locally known as the "village of elephants", a large clearing where between 50 and 200 elephants congregate every day to drink mineral salts present in the sands.
The Dzanga-Ndoki National Park is a site monitored through the CITES-led Monitoring Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) and levels of poaching have generally been below average for Central Africa. The site is remote and has been relatively well protected and there have been no major poaching incidents until now.
The CITES Secretariat urged all governments of the region and relevant United Nations and other international bodies to take urgent action to prevent the massacre of the elephant population living in the park. CITES has also informed its partners in the International Consortium on Combatting Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) of the imminent threat and requested each one to reach out and inform their various networks.
"This is very worrying news since recent poaching incidents of elephants has been on a massive scale, reflecting a new trend across the African continent where well-armed poachers with sophisticated weapons decimate one of our most magnificent species, often with impunity. This imminent threat to elephants in a remote and relatively well protected area is of grave concern to CITES and I call on the international community to join forces and take coordinated action to avoid a new tragedy of similar proportions to the massive killing of elephants occurred in Cameroon in 2012," said CITES Secretary-General, Mr. John E. Scanlon. More....