“In response to the recent large-scale poaching of elephants in and near the Bouba Ndjida National Park, the Cameroon government has announced steps not only to improve security but also to mitigate the effects of climate change on the drought-stricken park, in an effort to prevent elephants moving out of the protected area into the hands of ivory hunters.
About 250 elephants were massacred in January and February this year, according to a report by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), which said that poachers entered the country illegally from neighbouring Sudan and Chad.
“The animals’ trunks were cut off and the tusks were removed with machetes,” the report said. “This latest massacre is massive and has no comparison to those of preceding years.”
The IFAW report said the number of elephants remaining in Cameroon was unclear, but a 2007 estimate put the figure at between 3,000 and 5,000. The North Region of Cameroon, where Bouba Ndjida National Park is located, accounts for 95 percent of the country’s population of savannah elephants, according to the Centre for Environment and Rural Transformation (CERUT), a local nongovernmental organisation.
The killing of the elephants is not only a blow to the endangered species, but also a challenge to the government’s efforts to encourage visitors to its national parks. Tourism has been growing in Cameroon, with a government target to increase the number of foreign visitors to 500,000 this year, up from the 350,000 who visited in 2006. The sector contributes over more than 4 percent of GDP, according to government figures, and provides over 14,000 jobs.”
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