Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Concerns grow for Mali's elephants as war escalates

Until 2012 the Gourma elephants escaped the ivory poaching crisis that is sweeping across Africa. In 2012 three were killed, despite the poor quality of their tusks. Image courtesy of Carlton Ward/WILD foundation.

The Mali Elephant Project working hard to save Mali's elephants
January 2013. The war in Mali has escalated recently and France has now intervened. The human tragedy here has been growing for many years, but amidst the poverty, drought and hardship, a population of some 550 elephants, known as the ‘Gourma elephants', have survived on the edge of the Sahara.

Rebel armies funded by poaching across Africa
Profits from the illegal ivory trade are known to fuel terrorist groups like the Lord's Resistance Army, the Janjaweed militia and Al Shabaab. Organized crime syndicates are linking up with them to move the ivory around the world, exploiting turbulent states, porous borders and corrupt officials from sub-Saharan Africa to China, law enforcement officials say. There are concerns that the elephants may get caught up in the war and that rebel forces in Mali might try to go down the same road as the rebel groups above and threaten the extremely vulnerable population.

The Wild Foundation has been working to conserve the Gourma elephants for more than 10 years. Susan Canney, the project leader, writes:

"The map shows the location of the French air strikes (week of 13 January) in relation to the elephant range. It is expected that the Gourma region will be secured in the coming weeks as the effects of the French and West African ground troops support the current efforts of the Malian army. Our anti-poaching team was created towards the end of 2012. It is ready for action and will be deployed as the ground troops secure the zone. We have raised funds for initial training and integration of the anti-poaching unit with local communities, and more refined training is the next step."

Project activities continue in the field because the conflict is focused in the towns. The vast area and dispersed populations are challenging in peace-time, but are an asset in times of conflict, and the local population continue life as best they can.

No comments:

Post a Comment

You only need to enter your comment once! Comments will appear once they have been moderated. This is so as to stop the would-be comedian who has been spamming the comments here with inane and often offensive remarks. You know who you are!

Related Posts with Thumbnails