Dr Bradnee Chambers:
More civil unrest in Africa, another coup d’état, more reports of child soldiers in the front line, foreign troops involved, the poorest of the poor losing what little they have – and all the while the proceeds of a country’s wealth are diverted from much needed social and economic development to financing death and destruction.
It’s an all too familiar tale, a previous though somewhat different chapter of which was brought to the attention of a wider audience through Edward Zwick’s film “Blood Diamond”. Zwick recounted the story of the civil war in Sierra Leone, where the conflict was financed through the illegal trafficking of precious stones. National Geographic and WWF have already likened this trade to recent developments. Now, however, it is not Africa’s mineral wealth but its wildlife resources that are being misused – for “blood diamond” read “blood ivory”. And it is the blood of Africa’s fast diminishing population of elephants that is being spilled.
In February 2012, around 200 elephants were killed in Cameroon’s Bouba N’Djida National Park. Outgunned by well-armed militiamen the rangers were powerless to protect the animals, which were killed for their valuable tusks.
In January 2013 an entire family of elephants - 11 adults and a calf - was slaughtered in the worst single incident of its kind to have occurred in Kenya since the 1980s, an event described as “an unimaginable, heinous crime” by the Kenyan Wildlife Service.
Two months later 86 elephants were reported killed in the course of a single week in south-western Chad on their migration to the Central African Republic and Cameroon. The poachers were armed with AK47s and used hacksaws to remove the tusks. More....