Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Elephants are vanishing from DRC's best-run reserve

01.03.2013
The Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) largest remaining forest elephant population, located in the Okapi Faunal Reserve (OFR), has declined by 37 percent in the last five years, with only 1,700 elephants now remaining, according to wildlife surveys by WCS and DRC officials. WCS scientists warn that if poaching of forest elephants in DRC continues unabated, the species could be nearly extinguished from Africa's second largest country within ten years.

ccording to the latest survey, 5,100, or 75 percent, of the reserve's elephants have been killed in the last 15 years. These numbers are particularly shocking as the OFR is considered the best protected conservation area in DRC. According to WCS, the primary reason for the recent decline in forest elephant numbers is ivory poaching.

The survey comes in the wake of another grim report earlier this month from Gabon where 11,000 elephants were slaughtered in Minkebe National Park over a ten-year period. WCS continue to sound the alarm that rampant poaching is decimating elephant populations throughout Africa, and more needs to be done before populations vanish from many areas.

"The global poaching crisis for elephants is at epidemic proportions," said WCS Executive Vice President for Conservation and Science John Robinson. "The world must come together to recognize this problem and to stop the killing, trafficking, and demand, or we will lose elephants in the wild in our lifetime."

In the early 1990s, before the civil war of 1996-2003, DRC was relatively calm. In a 1995-1997 survey of the OFR – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – WCS found that there were approximately 6,800 forest elephants living in an area of almost 14,000 km2 (8,682 square miles).

After the civil war, WCS carried out a second survey in 2005-2007, and found that elephants had suffered heavy losses to poaching with numbers having dropped by 60 percent to approximately 2700 elephants. Despite this dramatic decline, OFR had fared much better than did other protected areas during the civil war. For example, in Salonga National Park, a huge area that once held the largest elephant population in DRC, WCS found that elephants had been decimated to less than 1,000 individuals. Thus, by 2007, OFR had DRC's largest remaining forest elephant population.

During the war, park guards could not protect much of OFR but were able to document elephant kills and ivory poaching. Since the end of the civil war, five years ago, park rangers have reduced the decline from approximately 400 to 170 elephants annually.

Despite this success, the park rangers cannot keep up with the dramatic increase in demand for ivory that is being fueled by economic growth in Asia, particularly China, and facilitated by increased access to previously remote forests. Ivory poaching is increasingly undertaken by highly organized, heavily armed criminal cartels.

Since this last census was conducted, insecurity in the OFR has become far worse. Rebels launched a deadly attack on the park headquarters in June 2012, killing park rangers and villagers and destroying park administrative buildings and equipment. The insecurity continues across the entire Ituri landscape with many villages, including Mambasa the largest and closest town, being attacked, dozens of people killed, and 30,000 displaced.

Despite these hard realities, OFR remains the most important site for the conservation of forest elephants and other large mammals in DRC. Additional results from recent surveys show that other wildlife in the reserve fared much better, including the highly important eastern chimpanzee population (approximately 6,000 individuals), okapi, and duikers (small forest antelopes), with almost no change in their estimated populations between 2007 and 2011.

WCS, in partnership with the DRC government's wildlife department (Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature – ICCN), is committed to ensure the viability of the Reserve for the wildlife and people of DRC, the fifth most biodiverse country in the world.

James Deutsch, WCS Executive Director for Africa Programs said: "We salute our partners at ICCN for their dedication and commitment to protect wildlife under the most difficult circumstances. We remain stalwart in our partnership with them and will continue to work in their country to protect elephants and the landscapes where they live. We urge the international community to support the DRC in the fight against the threat of extinction of the forest elephant."

WCS works to stop the killing by collaborating with partners to prevent criminals from slaughtering elephants in Africa's worst killing fields. WCS recruits, trains, and supports eco-guard patrols, focusing their efforts through local intelligence networks and aerial surveillance, and ensuring they get the backup they need from the police, army, and courts.

To stop trafficking, WCS works with governments to detect smuggled ivory at key ports and airports at different points in the trade chain in Africa and East Asia. Techniques are varied and include sniffer dogs to detect ivory, and working with judiciaries and other agencies to increase the number of cases taken to court and rates of successful prosecutions. On both the political and technical sides, WCS aims to ensure that future large ivory shipments are sampled for their DNA, to allow the point of origin of the ivory to be determined, thereby facilitating increased protection of those populations.

Stopping the demand will involve focusing on Chinese social media platforms to encourage public engagement and influence how Chinese government agencies respond to the illegal ivory trade. WCS plans to support the creation of a social media hub, run by a team out of Beijing, that focuses on information sharing, opinion mapping, monitoring and calibration, building partnerships, engagement and mobilization – all based on the real and immediate impacts of poaching and illegal ivory trade.

The surveys in DRC were conducted by WCS and ICCN. Funding for the three censuses came from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the Central African Regional Program for the Environment (CARPE) a US Agency for International Development (USAID) initiative for biodiversity conservation in central Africa, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. Visit: www.wcs.org

Special Note to the Media: If you would like to guide your readers or viewers to a Web link where they can make donations in support of helping save wildlife and wild places, please direct them to www.wcs.org.

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. Visit: www.wcs.org

CONTACT: STEPHEN SAUTNER: (1-718-220-3682; ssautner@wcs.org)

JOHN DELANEY: (1-718-220-3275; jdelaney@wcs.org)

Stephen Sautner | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wcs.org

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Upcycling 'fast fashion' to reduce waste and pollution
03.04.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>