Less than a month ago Bouba N’Djida National Park in northeastern Cameroon was home to 450 elephants. Today, at least half of those elephants are gone, slaughtered by armed horsemen who traveled hundreds of kilometers, probably from Sudan, to kill the animals for their valuable ivory tusks. So many elephants were killed during a two-week period that park officials had to stop counting the carcasses and put their resources into trying to preserve the few remaining animals.
Cameroon sent 150 soldiers into the park on March 1, but the damage had already been done. “The forces arrived too late to save most of the park’s elephants, and were too few to deter the poachers,” Natasha Kofoworola Quist, director of the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Central Africa program, said during a press teleconference on March 15. One soldier had been murdered by poachers by that time and at least 20 more elephants had been killed, despite the military presence. The raiders have also extended their poaching beyond the confines of the park, killing elephants in nearby forests.
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