News

Cameroon Military to Hunt Down Elephant Poachers

The carcasses of elephants slaughtered by poachers are seen in Boubou Ndjida National Park, Cameroon, February 2012.
The carcasses of elephants slaughtered by poachers are seen in Boubou Ndjida National Park, Cameroon, February 2012.
Anne Look

Environmental activists in Cameroon say the military is mounting an offensive against poachers in the north, who are believed to have killed half of the country's remaining elephants.

Cameroon's Defense Ministry has declined to discuss ongoing military operations with journalists. But environmental activists say the government has sent more than 100 soldiers to the remote northern reaches of the country to hunt down armed poachers who are believed to have killed as many as 300 elephants since January.

Cameroonian environmental journalist, Jean Vincent Tchienehom, spoke to VOA from Bouba N’Djida National Park in the north.

He said poachers have been able to hunt there with impunity throughout the dry season for years. He said they enlist the help of local villagers, who are happy to take the elephant meat and be rid of the large beasts who trample their crops. He said the poachers are only after the ivory, which they sell at high profit margins to Asian markets, primarily the Chinese. The poachers then use this money, he said, to buy arms for conflicts in the region, particularly in Sudan.

The World Wildlife Fund said the Arabic-speaking poachers are believed to be from Sudan and to have entered the country illegally on horseback via Cameroon's border with Chad.

Conservationists say the lack of enforcement on the border and in the park have left elephants vulnerable to repeated annual attacks.

World Wildlife Fund regional communications manager, Florence Anouboudem, said Cameroon's elephants account for 80 percent of the population that remains in all of Central Africa.  

"The future of conservation is in the north of Cameroon because there you have the highest population of elephants and also the population of the North don't eat bushmeat, so they will never go killing species, killing herds, to eat or to sell."

Elephants are what conservationists call a "keystone" species, as they play a pivotal role in the survival of the ecosystem.

The massive animals, weighing as much as seven tons, clear paths, fell trees and dig water holes that are then used by humans and other animals. Elephant dung is a valuable, nutrient-rich fertilizer and a highly effective means of dispersing seeds.

Still, WWF's Anouboudem said conservation remains low priority for African governments and residents.

"People will not understand why an elephant is so important when we ourselves don't have enough food, don't have enough drugs for our children, don't have all the basic resources," said Anouboudem.

The World Wildlife Fund, as well as other environmental groups and the European Union, have sounded the alarm in recent years over increased poaching in Cameroon's national parks.

Conservationists say Cameroon's government must stop this year's slaughter, secure the border area and bring poachers to justice.



This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Mikie
March 15, 2012 9:55 PM
The usa Canada and othe counires coulkd donate money to CAMEROON MILITARY GIVE TRHEM MORE GUNS BAZOOKAS TO FIGHT POACHERS, EVEN AN APACHE HELICOPTER COPULD KILL THE POACHERS FAST THEY ARE EVIL TO HARM THESE BEAUTIFUL ANIMALS HOW HORRIBLE I FEEL POACHES SHOULD BE SHOT AND KILLKED NO JAIL NO BREAKS THEY HAVE KILLKED RANGERS ONE SOLDIER DEATH TO ALL POACHERS PERIOD,

by: brian nelson
March 06, 2012 7:52 PM
Death to all poachers. The should have a law that all poachers are meet with a death sentence. This will help slow the poaching!

by: Jane
March 05, 2012 12:37 PM
Couldnt we in the west offer assistance?placeing 3microchips deeply in each tusk with a corresponding one inside the body wolud soon show they have been detached from the body via sattalite to the cameroune milatry headquarters ,park officals ,world wildlife headquarters .if you drill deep place it in the tusk and cover it in resin .cameroune are a very peaceful nation the military could be givenn helicopters firearms for defense tracking equipment,as they are rich in wildlife ,maybe NOT cash.

by: Jane
March 05, 2012 11:56 AM
Couldnt we in the west offer assistance?placeing 3microchips deeply in each tusk with a corresponding one inside the body wolud soon show they have been detached from the body via sattalite to the cameroune milatry headquarters ,park officals ,world wildlife headquarters .if you drill deep place it in the tusk and cover it in resin .cameroune are a very peaceful nation the military could be givenn helicopters firearms for defense tracking equipment,as they are rich in wildlife ,maybe NOT cash.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs