Authorities protecting the Gabonese segment of Central Africa’s biggest forest elephant stronghold captured a record number of poachers last week. However, “terrifying” intelligence gathered from those arrested show wildlife criminals still have the upper hand in the battle to save Central Africa’s elephants.
A total of 17 poachers were arrested between January 16 and January 23 in the Gabonese side of the Dja-Odzala-Minkébé (TRIDOM) Landscape, an area encompassing Gabon, Cameroon and the Republic of Congo, recognized as a priority place for biodiversity conservation, according to Joseph Okouyi, a senior warden at the Gabonese National Parks Agency.
“We never arrested so many poachers in such a short period of time – a clear sign that our strategy of fighting wildlife criminals through increased manpower is an effective one,” he said, adding that a further twelve poachers had managed to avoid capture during the same operations.
But, Okouyi warned that “terrifying” intelligence collected from those arrested hinted that TRIDOM was being emptied of its elephants, and that the only effective way to win the war against poachers is through effective regional and international cooperation.
More Resources to preserve Central Africa’s elephants
“Last year we had 20 operational ecogards at our disposal to patrol an area which at more than 12,000 square kilometers is equivalent to a country the size of Jamaica,” Okouyi said.
“Now we have 43 ecogards. We have two times more capacity.”
“With more men you have more patrols and cover more ground. Not only does this result in more arrests, but it sends a strong signal to poachers that we are here.”
With up to 40,000 elephants, the TRIDOM Landscape is home to Africa’s largest forest elephant population. Unfortunately it is also one of the most dangerous places in the world for elephants, with dozens being killed every day for their ivory. More....