News / Africa

WWF: Clock Ticking on Hunt for Sudanese Poachers

Carcasses of elephants slaughtered by poachers in Boubou Ndjida National Park, Cameroon, Feb. 16, 2012.
Carcasses of elephants slaughtered by poachers in Boubou Ndjida National Park, Cameroon, Feb. 16, 2012.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) says time is running out for Central African nations to track down a group of Sudanese poachers accused of slaughtering hundreds of elephants in just the past two years.
But lack of coordination among countries in the region, the wildlife advocacy group says, is making it difficult to track roughly 300 heavily armed Sudanese poachers who travel on horseback and are believed to be hunting down elephants in the savanna regions of Cameroon, Chad and Central African Republic.
In one attack last month, the poachers allegedly killed 89 elephants in southern Chad. The group is also suspected of slaughtering around 300 elephants in Cameroon in early 2012 — a massacre that brought global attention to the dangers facing the region’s savanna elephants.
It has been three weeks since the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) convened a high-level regional meeting in Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon, to plan a coordinated response.
Cameroon has deployed 600 specialized troops to combat the problem on its soil. At the conference, regional leaders said they would mobilize up to 1,000 soldiers and law enforcement officers for the effort. They also vowed to establish a central command so that forces from different countries could communicate and share intelligence.
But Bas Huijbregts, head of WWF’s campaign against illegal wildlife trade in Central Africa, said the poachers are expected to return to Sudan in just a few weeks as the dry season draws to a close, meaning there is not much time to track them down. He said this week there had been little evident progress on establishing the central command, and doubted the efforts would begin in time.
“I don’t think there’s going to be a joint command at least for this dry season. That is the biggest weakness for the moment," he said. "These countries are basically all blind on the other side of the border, so they do not know when poachers are nearing their borders and they don’t have agreements to be able to pursue poachers from one side of the border to the other.”
The emergency plan approved by the conference last month was expected to cost around $2.3 million.
Honoré Tabuna, the ECCAS official in charge of the effort, says although some progress has been made in getting the central command up and running, recent instability in Central African Republic has delayed signing of a draft decision to establish a regional anti-poaching unit, a decision he expects to be signed Monday.
Huijbregts says that while the issue of the Sudanese poachers has received large-scale attention since only last year, the group has long wreaked havoc across the region.
"These poachers have been active in this region already for a very, very long time and have basically exterminated elephant populations in the north and in the east of Central African Republic," he said. "That is why they are currently now looking for remaining elephant herds in Cameroon and in Chad."
WWF estimates that the number of savanna elephants in Central African Republic has plunged over the last 30 years from 80,000 to just a few hundred.
Huijbregts says specialized training would be necessary to successfully combat the poachers, who he described as very dangerous.
"These hunters are military trained and likely have been doing, from generation to generation, massive elephant poaching on horseback," he said. "Those are the people that know these remote savannah areas really by heart. They know how to make camouflaged camps. They know how to back each other up on horseback. Having close encounters with these poachers is indeed a very dangerous situation given the fact that these poachers, they shoot on sight, and has already resulted in the past in people being wounded and killed on both sides."

You May Like

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs