By Cristián Samper
The wave of poaching devastating central Africa's forest elephant population may see some relief with a new agreement forged by the governments of Gabon and the Central African Republic (CAR) to improve management of CAR's wildlife resources.
The agreement comes after some two dozen elephants were brutally slaughtered at a CAR protected area in early May. The killings took place at Dzanga Bai, a well-known forest clearing in Dzanga-Sangha National Park, which is part of the Sangha Trinational World Heritage Site. These elephants have become the target of criminal gangs, who increasingly trade in blood ivory to fund violent campaigns of political destabilization across the Sahel.
The Wildlife Conservation Society wishes to recognize the outstanding leadership of Gabon president Ali Bongo Ondimba and Michel Djotodia, acting president of the CAR transitional government, in confronting this urgent wildlife emergency and restoring security to Dzanga Bai.
The resolution to this crisis could never have been achieved without the dedicated and heroic efforts of a team of conservationists led by Mike Fay. Fay, a Senior Conservationist with WCS, an Explorer in Residence with the National Geographic Society, and a Senior Adviser to the President of Gabon, has dedicated a good part of his working life to the study and protection of wildlife in Central Africa.
Working with Lee White of the Gabon National Parks Agency, Bas Huijbregts of WWF International, and Richard Ruggiero of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Fay helped facilitate discussions between presidents Bongo and Djotodia to secure the elephants of Dzanga and all of CAR's parks. At the same time colleagues from the Last Great Ape Association (LAGA) began discussions with the current military authorities in Bayanga, near Dzanga Bai. More....