By Jeremy Hance
WWF and the Wildlife Conversation Society (WCS) are issuing an immediate call for action as they report that poachers are killing sizable numbers of forest elephants near the Dzanga-Sangha protected areas in the Central African Republic (CAR). The two large conservation groups have evacuated their staff from the area after a government coup, but local rangers are still trying to determine the scale of the killing while defending remaining elephants. In total the conservation groups believe the parks are home to over 3,000 elephants.
"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," Jim Leape, WWF Director General said. "Heroic rangers are standing firm in the face of immense danger, but they alone cannot safeguard the special species and places the world treasures."
The crisis is believed to have been kick-started by the ousting of long-time president, François Bozize. Poachers appear to be taking advantage of the resulting governmental chaos, while the Associated Press reports that the rebels may be connected to the elephants poachers.
Although the conversation groups don't know yet how many elephants have been killed, according to a press release they believe the number "may be extensive." Patrols through the forest have stopped due to instability, and the groups report that elephant meat is being sold in the area openly. More....