Mass killing of Cameroon elephants alarms UN group

The UN watchdog into the illegal wildlife trade voiced "grave concern" at a spike in African elephant poaching.

Geneva: The UN watchdog into the illegal
wildlife trade on Tuesday voiced "grave concern" at a spike in
African elephant poaching after nearly 450 of the animals were
killed in Cameroon.

The head of the Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), John
Scanlon, pointed at recent reports of mass poaching for ivory
in Cameroon`s Bouba Ndjida National Park.

"This most recent incident of poaching elephants is on a
massive scale," said Scanlon. "It reflects a new trend we are
detecting across many range states, where well-armed poachers
with sophisticated weapons decimate elephant populations,
often with impunity."

CITES is offering African governments support to hunt down
the criminals and to locate and seize the poached ivory.

Potential transit and destination countries had been urged to
remain extremely vigilant and to cooperate.

The CITES programme on elephants revealed increasing
levels of poaching in 2011.

"This spike in elephant poaching is of grave concern not
only to Cameroon, a member state to CITES, but to all 38 range
states of the African elephant," said Scanlon.

CITES said elephants have been slaughtered by groups from
Chad and the Sudan in recent weeks, taking advantage of the
dry season.

The poached ivory is believed to be traded for money,
weapons and munition, fuelling conflicts in neighbouring

The UN agency said it will contact the ministers
responsible for forests and wildlife from Cameroon, Chad, the
Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo
and Sudan to offer anti-poaching support.

Scanlon has designated Ben Janse Van Rensburg, a senior
CITES security official with experience in fighting poaching,
to coordinate support in response to the major elephant

Van Rensburg is working with other international agencies
including the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife
Crime, Interpol, the World Customs Organisation, the UN Office
on Drugs and Crime and the World Bank.


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