26 elephants massacred in World Heritage site in Central African Republic

Yaoundé, Cameroon / May 10, 2012 – At least 26 elephants were massacred in the Dzanga Bai World Heritage Site in the Central African Republic, after 17 individuals armed with Kalashnikov rifles entered one of Africa’s most unique elephant habitats on Monday, May 6.

This is considered to be one of the biggest elephant massacres in the region since poachers killed at least 300 elephants for their ivory in Cameroon’s Bouba N’Djida National Park in February 2012. Jim Leape, WWF International Director General said that populations of this species have decreased 62 per cent over the past ten years.

Since the poachers arrived no elephants have been seen at the Bai, which was described as an “elephant mortuary”.

Since the poachers arrived no elephants have been seen at the Bai, which was described as an “elephant mortuary”. Image © WWF

According to WWF, at least 26 elephant carcasses were counted in the Dzanga-Ndoki National Park, in and around the Dzanga Bai, known locally as the “village of elephants”, a large clearing where between 50 and 200 elephants congregate every day to drink mineral salts present in the sands.

Four of the 26 elephant carcasses were calves, as local villagers had already started taking meat from the carcasses.

Although the 17 armed individuals, who presented themselves as part of the country’s transitional government forces, have left the area, conservation organizations in the area fear the killing could continue unless the area is properly secured.

Since the poachers arrived, no elephants have been seen at the Bai, now described as an “elephant mortuary” according to the sources.

The Central African Republic has been rocked by violence and chaos since the beginning of the year, forcing WWF and other conservation organization teams to leave field offices for security reasons last month.

“The international community must also act to assist the Central African Republic to restore peace and order in this country to safeguard its population and its natural heritage,” Jim Leape said.

“The brutal violence we are witnessing in Dzanga Bai threatens to destroy one of the world’s great natural treasures, and to jeopardise the future of the people who live there,” he said.

“The unfolding tragedy in Dzanga Bai must also spur the governments of China and Thailand to shut down the illegal ivory markets in their countries that are fueling this illicit trade,” he concluded.

Source: WWF