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 New mathematical model can help save endangered species
14.01.2019 | University of Southern Denmark

nachricht Foxes in the city: citizen science helps researchers to study urban wildlife
14.12.2018 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

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: Ultra ultrasound to transform new tech

World first experiments on sensor that may revolutionise everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles

The new sensor - capable of detecting vibrations of living cells - may revolutionise everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles.

Im Focus: Flying Optical Cats for Quantum Communication

Dead and alive at the same time? Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have implemented Erwin Schrödinger’s paradoxical gedanken experiment employing an entangled atom-light state.

In 1935 Erwin Schrödinger formulated a thought experiment designed to capture the paradoxical nature of quantum physics. The crucial element of this gedanken...

Im Focus: Nanocellulose for novel implants: Ears from the 3D-printer

Cellulose obtained from wood has amazing material properties. Empa researchers are now equipping the biodegradable material with additional functionalities to produce implants for cartilage diseases using 3D printing.

It all starts with an ear. Empa researcher Michael Hausmann removes the object shaped like a human ear from the 3D printer and explains:

Im Focus: Elucidating the Atomic Mechanism of Superlubricity

The phenomenon of so-called superlubricity is known, but so far the explanation at the atomic level has been missing: for example, how does extremely low friction occur in bearings? Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institutes IWM and IWS jointly deciphered a universal mechanism of superlubricity for certain diamond-like carbon layers in combination with organic lubricants. Based on this knowledge, it is now possible to formulate design rules for supra lubricating layer-lubricant combinations. The results are presented in an article in Nature Communications, volume 10.

One of the most important prerequisites for sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility is minimizing friction. Research and industry have been dedicated...

Im Focus: Mission completed – EU partners successfully test new technologies for space robots in Morocco

Just in time for Christmas, a Mars-analogue mission in Morocco, coordinated by the Robotics Innovation Center of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) as part of the SRC project FACILITATORS, has been successfully completed. SRC, the Strategic Research Cluster on Space Robotics Technologies, is a program of the European Union to support research and development in space technologies. From mid-November to mid-December 2018, a team of more than 30 scientists from 11 countries tested technologies for future exploration of Mars and Moon in the desert of the Maghreb state.

Close to the border with Algeria, the Erfoud region in Morocco – known to tourists for its impressive sand dunes – offered ideal conditions for the four-week...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Our digital society in 2040

16.01.2019 | Event News

11th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Aachen, 3-4 April 2019

14.01.2019 | Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A new twist on a mesmerizing story

17.01.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Brilliant glow of paint-on semiconductors comes from ornate quantum physics

17.01.2019 | Materials Sciences

Drones shown to make traffic crash site assessments safer, faster and more accurate

17.01.2019 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>