Johannesburg - Poachers have
slaughtered at least 200 elephants in the past five weeks in a patch of
Africa where they are more dangerously endangered than anywhere else on
Earth, wildlife activists said on Thursday.
The money made from
selling elephant tusks is fuelling misery throughout the continent, the
International Fund for Animal Welfare warned.
Many elephant calves
orphaned by the recent killings have been spotted in Cameroon's Bouba
Ndjida National Park, and activists fear the animals may soon die of
hunger and thirst.
"Their deaths will only compound the impact of
the poaching spree on the Cameroon's threatened elephant populations,"
the organisation said in a statement.
It is not known how many
elephants remain in the West African nation. The latest figures from the
International Union for Conservation of Nature estimated there were
only 1 000 to 5 000 left in 2007.
The fund blamed poachers from
Sudan, who it said were crossing through Chad to reach the remote
northern Cameroonian wildlife reserve. Ongoing shooting is making it
impossible to conduct a detailed assessment, activists said.
fund said armed insurgents have crossed porous borders on poaching raids
for years, but it called the scale of this year's killings "massive and
Embassies of the United States, the European
Union, Britain and France had sounded alarm bells about the slaughter
and had called on Cameroon's government to take urgent action to stop
"The ivory is smuggled
out of West and Central Africa for markets in Asia and Europe, and the
money it raises funds arms purchases for use in regional conflicts,
particularly ongoing unrest in Sudan and in the Central African
Republic," said the fund's Paris-based spokesperson Celine
Wildlife experts said recently that large
seizures of elephant tusks made 2011 the worst on record for elephants
since ivory sales were banned in 1989.
The fund said estimates suggested as many as 3 000 elephants were killed by poachers across the continent last year.
warned that countries such as Chad could lose their entire elephant
population in the very near future if current poaching levels are
Traffic, the wildlife trade monitoring network, said
Asian crime syndicates have become increasingly involved in poaching and
the illegal ivory trade across Africa, a trend that coincides with
growing Asian investment on the continent.