By John F. Calvelli
Key decision makers in the U.S. government and Congress are slowly coming to grasp the severity and magnitude of the current forest elephant poaching crisis in central Africa.
A turning point may have been the reported slaughter in May of dozens of elephants at the Central African Republic's Dzanga Bai, an historic sanctuary for forest elephants at which WCS has been monitoring and protecting wildlife for 20 years. The killings received widespread media coverage and attention.
Just two months prior, WCS conservationists Fiona Maisels and Samantha Strindberg helped publish a study showing that a staggering 62 percent of forest elephants vanished from central Africa between 2002 and 2011. The numbers are devastating and it is clear that this is a situation that will not solve itself.
In late May, I facilitated a discussion among U.S. government officials, Congressional staffers and representatives from the embassy of the Central African Republic. Congressman Ed Royce (R-CA) spoke at that event and asserted that something needed to be done about the problem, and that the U.S. needed to be the ones to do it.
Rep. Royce issued a call to action for Congress to act now to halt the atrocities. Weeks later, he repeated this call on the floor of the House of Representatives during debate with House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard McKeon (R-CA). More....