By Gabe Joselow
Elephant poaching is on the rise in the Central African Republic because of insecurity that followed a coup last month, according to conservationists in the region.
The World Wildlife Fund says elephant meat is being sold in markets in southwestern CAR, a troubling sign of increased poaching.
Bas Huijbregts, head of policy for WWF in the region, says the trouble started after the rebel coalition known as Seleka overran the government in March, and seized control of the capital.
"Because of this power vacuum created, because of this civil war situation in the last few weeks, elephant poaching has dramatically increased," he said.
The reports are coming from towns and cities near the Dzanga Sangha protected areas, a park system spanning three countries, and home to one of the world’s largest populations of forest elephants.
In a visit to the park last year, VOA saw first-hand a gathering of about 50 elephants in a clearing in the forest - a natural wonder that appears in few other places. Conservationists had, at the time, expressed concerns about poachers in the area, and were training armed guards to combat the threat.
WWF says it is difficult to determine the exact number of elephants killed since the Seleka takeover. More....