For World Elephant Day, ZSL Cameroon presents some of our work around the Dja Biosphere Reserve and discusses some of the challenges to protecting forest elephant populations.
ZSL has been working in Cameroon around the periphery of the Dja Biosphere Reserve since 2008. The reserve is highly biodiverse, with exceptional populations of elephants, chimpanzees, and gorillas, however it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site threatened by high levels of poaching. The government lacks the human, material and technical capacity to ensure that the reserve is effectively protected. High levels of poverty of local communities who depend highly on the forest, like the indigenous Baka, shown in this photo, often means that they are susceptible to being used by traffickers to kill elusive elephants for their ivory.
The international ivory trade is responsible for decimating populations of elephants across Africa, and has hit forest elephants particularly hard. Unless the government can effectively protect the habitat and prosecute traffickers in these endangered species, elephants in this part of the world will disappear. ZSL is working with the government to reinforce their ability to stop the trafficking networks that threatens the elephant. (©Madeleine Bata/ZSL)
The Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife (MINFOF) is a key partner for all of ZSL’s work focused on protecting elephants and their habitat. Anti-poaching missions often focus on making arrests and seizing wildlife products, but the damage has already been done. Ivory and ammunition seized during anti-poaching patrols is stocked temporarily in local MINFOF offices before being sent to the capital, Yaoundé. Although Cameroon hasn’t followed the example of other African nations to burn stockpiled ivory, they have recently signed the London Declaration committing to control poaching and protect remaining elephant populations. (©Madeleine Bata/ZSL)
On a recent anti-poaching trip organized with support from ZSL and the IUCN-SOS fund, the Conservation Service of the Dja Biosphere Reserve found numerous poaching camps, all unoccupied. Oliver Fankem, ZSL Cameroon’s Research Coordinator who supports the Dja Biosphere Reserve’s forest patrol teams in biomonitoring and law enforcement, examines a jaw bone and remaining tooth of a poached elephant found in one of the poaching camps. Elephants are important “gardeners” of the forest, with an important role of maintaining the forest ecosystem. Without serious government commitment to protecting them, the future of these forests is uncertain. (©Oliver Fankem/ZSL)
Select a blog
Join the ZSL Discovery and Learning team as they venture out of the zoo and in to the wild.
ZSL Whipsnade Zoo's elephant keepers give an insight into the daily goings on in the elephant barn.
Read about conservation of tigers in Asia.
One man is boldly going where no other ZSL videographer has gone before - the land of Mountain Chicken Frogs.
A blog for lovers of ZSL London Zoo. Bringing you amazing animal facts and exclusive access to the world's scientific oldest zoo.
Every month one of the pieces held in ZSL’s Library and at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo will feature here as Artefact of the month.
Follow the latest news on ZSL’s Arts & Culture projects at ZSL London and Whipsnade Zoos, and ZSL’s conservation work through the lense of the Arts.
Catch up on our latest Conservation Blogs
From the field, to the lab, catch up with the scientists on the cutting edge of conservation biology at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology.
The Wildlife Wood Project has been working in Cameroon since 2007 to encourage better wildlife management in logging concessions.
Updates from penguin conservation expeditions to Antarctica
Amur leopard conservation blog
Meet ZSL Whipsnade Zoo's latest (and leggiest) arrival, a baby giraffe!
Follow the ZSL Biodiversity and Palm Oil team, based in Bogor, Indonesia.
The Chagos marine reserve, designated in 2010 and currently the world’s largest no take marine reserve, is a sought-after spot for marine research.
Follow ZSL’s amphibian experts in their quest to find out why 41% of the world’s amphibians are threatened and what can be done to stop more species becoming extinct.
Follow ZSL conservationists studying desert baboons in Namibia.