Conservation groups have been forced to evacuate their staff members from the Central African Republic, where large numbers of elephants are being poached amidst a chaotic struggle for leadership of the country.
The World Wildlife Fund has confirmed that forest elephants are being poached near the Dzanga-Sangha protected areas, a World Heritage Site situated in the north-western Congo Basin, where Cameroon, Central African Republic and Congo meet.
The unstable security situation is keeping park staff from searching the dense forest for elephant carcasses, but elephant meat is reportedly being sold in local markets and nearby villages.
Due to the violence and chaos in the area, the exact number of elephants slaughtered is not known, but initial reports indicate it may be extensive, WWF said Thursday.
The global conservation group WWF and the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society have evacuated their personnel to safety. Both groups have worked to conserve the animals and their habitat in the Central African Republic for many years.
WWF Director General Jim Leape said, “The elephant poaching crisis, driven by insatiable ivory demand, is so severe that no area is safe, not even the World Heritage Site Dzanga-Sangha where both WWF and WCS have now worked for the conservation of elephants for decades.”
“Heroic rangers are standing firm in the face of immense danger, but they alone cannot safeguard the special species and places the world treasures,” Leape said. More....