Poachers slaughter 30 elephants in DR Congo

March 23, 2015
File photo shows an African elephant in the Waly Bai area of the Nouabale Ndoki National Park, Republic of Congo, on May 22, 2012

Ivory-hungry poachers have killed 30 elephants in a Congolese national park in the past two weeks, park authorities said Monday, adding that the culprits were likely Sudanese militia.

News of the Garamba National Park slaughter came as wildlife experts warned at a major summit in Botswana that elephants could become extinct with a few decades if poaching continues.

Sudanese raiders are suspected of killing the endangered pachyderms, conservation director at African Parks Jean Marc Froment said.

"We have a group of north Sudanese coming inside the park, spreading in small groups and during 15 days they killed 30 elephants," said Froment, whose group co-manages Garamba National Park, located in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Garamba is home to 1,700 elephants, according to wildlife surveys, making it a target for armed ivory poachers.

With just 150 rangers patrolling 13,000 square kilometres (8,000 square miles) of grassland and forest, it is difficult to keep the giant mammals safe.

Froment believes Sudanese militia are behind the latest killing spree. They spread into Garamba after finding the elephant population density was thinning in Central African Republic and northern Congo, he said.

"These are very experienced elephant hunters," Froment added.

In 2012, Sudanese poachers killed as many as 300 elephants in 10 weeks in Bouba N'Djida National Park, northern Cameroon.

Some of those poachers wore government uniforms and carried army identity documents.

The Ugandan rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), whose ranks are infamously swelled by abducted children, have also poached in Garamba.

Ugandan troops who are meant to be hunting fugitive LRA chief Joseph Kony down, as well as members of the South Sudanese and Congolese armies, are also believed to be involved in poaching.

Last June, African Parks warned of a "poaching onslaught" in Garamba after 68 elephants were killed in just two months. Ten of them were slaughtered on a single day.

The parks authority singled out the LRA as a main culprit for that slaughter, though at least nine pachyderms were shot dead by a military helicopter.

African could be extinct in the wild "within our lifetime", experts warned on Monday at the Africa Elephant Summit held in Botswana.

Elephant hunting is often organised by international criminal networks to supply the illegal ivory market, mainly in Asia, with some profits thought to fund regional conflicts and militants.

Explore further: Garamba National Park under attack from armed poachers in DRC

Related Stories

Time running out for wild African elephants: experts

March 23, 2015

African elephants could be extinct in the wild within a few decades, experts warned on Monday at a major conservation summit in Botswana that highlighted an alarming decline in numbers due to poaching.

Recommended for you

Inert nitrogen forced to react with itself

March 21, 2019

Constituting over 78 % of the air we breathe, nitrogen is the element found the most often in its pure form on earth. The reason for the abundance of elemental nitrogen is the incredible stability and inertness of dinitrogen ...

Two-step path to shrinking worker bee gonads

March 21, 2019

The dramatic difference in gonad size between honey bee queens and their female workers in response to their distinct diets requires the switching on of a specific genetic program, according to a new study publishing March ...

Plant immunity cut to size

March 21, 2019

An international team based in Ghent, Belgium (VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology) and Basel, Switzerland (University of Basel), found a link between a class of enzymes and immune signals that is rapidly triggered ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.