WASHINGTON, DC, March 15, 2012 – The following statement was issued today by Natasha Kofoworola Quist, WWF’s Central Africa Regional Programme Office Representative:
“It has been two weeks since the Cameroon government authorized a military intervention at the site of the slaughter of hundreds of elephants. WWF is disturbed by reports that the poaching continues unabated in Bouba N’Djida National Park and that a soldier’s life has been lost. The forces arrived too late to save most of the park’s elephants, and were too few to deter the poachers.
It is likely that at least half the population of Bouba N’Djida’s elephants has been decimated.
WWF is seeking concrete assurance from Cameroon President Paul Biya that he will do whatever is necessary to protect the remaining elephants in Bouba N’Djida, and to bring the poachers to justice. WWF is hopeful that those detained will be prosecuted for violating Cameroon’s territorial integrity with deadly weapons in order to kill elephants for their ivory. WWF hopes that all those convicted of involvement in wildlife crimes will be sentenced to the full extent of the law.
WWF also calls on President Biya to extend an appropriate level of protection to wildlife in other Cameroon parks that are under a similar threat. WWF has for years cautioned the government that its rangers are not properly trained or equipped to address the scale, intensity and organized nature of illegal poaching.
Rangers’ lives are being lost in this battle. The honorable men and women who are putting their personal safety at risk to protect wildlife and to serve communities near protected areas deserve better from their leaders.
The poachers in Bouba N’Djida are reportedly from Chad and Sudan, thus this incident could constitute an invasion of Cameroon’s sovereign territory and willful slaughter of its wildlife.
WWF urges Cameroon to engage the governments of Chad and Sudan in a coordinated response to the criminal acts in Bouba N’Djida. WWF has offered its assistance and is awaiting meaningful action from Cameroon and its neighbors.”
For more information, please visit http://www.worldwildlife.org/who/media/press/2012/WWFPresitem27186.html.