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At least 26 ele­phants mas­sa­cred in World Her­itage site

pub­lished 11 May 2013 | mod­i­fied 05 April 2014

Dzanga bai worldheritageAt least 26 ele­phants were mas­sa­cred in the Dzanga Bai World Her­itage Site in the Cen­tral African Repub­lic, after 17 indi­vid­u­als armed with Kalash­nikov rifles on Mon­day entered this unique ele­phant habi­tat, known locally as the “vil­lage of elephants”.

WWF sources on Thurs­day said they had counted at least 26 ele­phant car­casses in and around the Bai, a large clear­ing where between 50 and 200 ele­phants con­gre­gate every day to drink nutri­ents present in the sands. Four of the ele­phants were calves, the sources said, adding that local vil­lagers had started tak­ing meat from the carcasses.

Since the poach­ers arrived no ele­phants have been seen at the Bai, which was described as an “ele­phant mor­tu­ary” the sources added. Although the 17 armed indi­vid­u­als, who pre­sented them­selves as part of the country’s tran­si­tional gov­ern­ment forces, have left the area, WWF and other con­ser­va­tion part­ners fear the killing could con­tinue unless the area is prop­erly secured.

The Cen­tral African Repub­lic has been rocked by vio­lence and chaos since the begin­ning of the year, and WWF and other con­ser­va­tion organ­i­sa­tions left the field office next to the Bai in April for secu­rity reasons.

The killing has started. The Cen­tral African Repub­lic must act imme­di­ately to secure this unique World Her­itage site.
Jim Leape, WWF Inter­na­tional Direc­tor General »

“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.

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.

WWF also asks Cameroon and the Repub­lic of Congo to assist the Cen­tral African Repub­lic in pre­serv­ing this World Her­itage Site, which not only encom­passes the Bai, but also includes large neigh­bour­ing areas of these two countries.

The events in Dzanga Bai are a vivid reminder of the exis­ten­tial threat faced by for­est ele­phants in Cen­tral Africa. Pop­u­la­tions of this species have plum­meted 62 per cent over the past ten years.

The unfold­ing tragedy in Dzanga Bai must also spur the gov­ern­ments of China and Thai­land to act on their com­mit­ments to shut down the ivory mar­kets in their coun­tries that are fuel­ing this illicit trade.”

(Source: WWF global news, 10.05.2013)

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