Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Cameroon deploys Special Forces to counter poaching gangs

Armed gangs are slaughtering elephants across Central Africa
Central Africa's last few elephants given a ray of hope

November 2012. Cameroon has mobilized its Special Forces units in an effort to prevent Sudanese poachers from entering its territory to hunt elephants for their ivory, in an operation it called "a first of its kind". WWF congratulates the Cameroonian government for taking concrete steps to address poaching and illegal wildlife trade, a lucrative criminal activity that undermines the sovereignty, security and economic prospects of the Central African region.

Killed hundreds of elephants in 2012
According to information obtained by WWF, this is the same group of poachers that in early 2012 travelled more than 1,000 km on horseback from northern Sudan across the Central African Republic and Chad to kill over 300 elephants in the Bouba N'Djida National Park in northern Cameroon. This information says that the group had decided to return earlier than usual this year in order to take advantage of the greater ground cover available during the rainy season and to catch the park guards by surprise by arriving sooner than expected.
Rapid Intervention Battalion

On Friday, high ranking officials of the Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR), Cameroon's special forces, told WWF that the high command had as a priority "the conservation of biodiversity, including the fight against cross-border poaching."

"We are committed to avoid a repeat of the elephant massacre of early 2012," a BIR official said. "We are already on the ground, we know the poachers are coming, and we have forces deployed in the reserves. It is highly unfortunate that the military had to be called in to address this situation, but the reality is that we are dealing with well-armed and highly trained individuals, who do not hesitate to terrorize local populations to achieve their aims."
"It should be noted that this is one of the top priority missions that the BIR is dealing with at this time, and the operational and logistical scale of this operation is the first of its kind," the BIR representative said.

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