Elephants in Zakouma National Park, the last stronghold for the savanna elephants of Central Africa's Sahel region, now hover at about 1,000 animals, down from an estimated 3,000 in 2006. Ivory poachers using automatic weapons have decimated elephant populations particularly when herds venture seasonally outside of the park.
Civil unrest in has made conservation exceedingly difficult in Chad. Several park guards have been shot and killed in recent years. However, safety conditions have recently improved somewhat and WCS is optimistic that it can increase on-the-ground elephant conservation work in and around Zakouma to protect the remaining population.
"The situation in Zakouma is dire, but there is still time to save the park's remaining elephants provided we can marshal the forces we need to stop poaching," said WCS President and CEO Dr. Steven E. Sanderson. "We need to continue to work closely with Zakouma's dedicated park guards and give them what they need to do their jobs, while our own field staff provide aerial reconnaissance and technical support."
WCS has established a fund to help save Zakouma's surviving elephants. Members of the public can support this critical effort by going to: www.wcs.org/elephants. History has shown that elephants can recover in Zakouma. Until this recent spate in poaching, elephant numbers have rebounded from an estimated 1,100 in 1985 to as many as 3,500 in early 2006.
The Wildlife Conservation Society first sounded the alarm two years ago when WCS researcher and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Mike Fay noticed a steep drop in the region's elephant numbers during his "MegaFlyover" of some of Africa's last wild places. Additional research, including radio-collaring and tracking individual animals, revealed that poaching was once again decimating these herds. A WCS pilot and light-aircraft permanently based in Zakouma now provides information to Chad's park service about poaching activi
|Contact: Stephen Sautner|
Wildlife Conservation Society