Sad news for the elephants. These majestic pachyderms, victims of intensive poaching, could disappear from the Tanzanian nature reserve of Selous by 2022.
Where is located the reserve of Selous ?
The reserve of Selous is the largest in Africa with a surface of 54 600 km² and the second largest in the world… It is located in southern Tanzania near the east coast.
Thanks to its diversified fauna and its still authentic landscape, UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in 1982. And yes, at the heart of this protected area are many species such as elephants, hippos, lycaons, buffaloes, crocodiles and over 350 varieties of birds!
A smaller and smaller elephant population
Sadly, the slaughter continues, driven by illegal ivory trade fuelled by strong Asian demand. Today there are only 15,000 elephants left in this nature reserve while they were 110,000 in the 1970s!
Africa, and more particularly Tanzania, has been suffering from this “industrial poaching” for several years. Indeed, according to a study published in November 2014 by the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), “Tanzania is now playing a key role in the illegal ivory trade. In 2013, 10,000 elephants were killed, equivalent to 30 per day. This poaching crisis is due to a toxic mix between the emergence of Chinese criminal organizations and corruption of the Tanzanian administration members.
A well-oiled slaughter
Poachers are so well organized, they are hard to fight! They start their crimes with AK-47, shells or grenades. They hurt quickly. “You have a first team coming and scouting the area, then the killer team arrives and executes the group,” explains elephant conservation biologist Howard Frederick. “They then move to another area while the butcher team extracts the defences before the transporter team arrives. “These elephants are then stripped of their ivories still alive, and abandoned on the spot without compromise. These bands are in most cases based in Dar es Salaam, a port city near the Selous reserve.
Here is a sad video shot in northern Cameroon, which reveals the reality of poaching:
But let us not lose hope. Warning signals has been heard and organizations, such as the World Wildlife Fund, are urging the Tanzanian government to make efforts to end industrial poaching by 2018. Keep fingers crossed!
And what can we do about it ?
Not much? Wrong. Even at your level, every move is important!
Take time to identify objects made partially or entirely made of ivory to avoid any purchase of this type. Ivory can take the following forms:
Get informed. Many organizations, such as Tanzania Elephant Protection Society (TEPS), Save the Elephants of Africa (S.E.A.), International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) etc, are working hard to preserve elephants. And, if possible, get involved! Any vocation is useful.
Raise awareness among people around you.