Protecting forest elephants in Cameroon

by Anonymous (not verified) on

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.

Dja Biosphere Reserve
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)

Elephant skull
A man found this elephant skull in the forest, tusks already removed, in 2006. He was contacted by some people interested in buying pieces of the lower jaw, possibly for magic or as a trophy.

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)

Stockpiled ivory
Ivory stockpiled in local MINFOF office

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)

Elephant jaw and tooth
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.

 

Select a blog

Careers at ZSL

Our people are our greatest asset and we realise our vision for a world where wildlife thrives through their ideas, skills and passion. An inspired, informed and empowered community of people work, study and volunteer together at ZSL.

Nature at the heart of global decision making

At ZSL, a key area of our work is the employment of Nature-based Solutions – an approach which both adapt to and mitigates the impacts of climate change. These Solutions, which include habitat protection and restoration, are low-cost yet high-impact, and provide multiple benefits to people and wildlife. We ensure that biodiversity recovery is at the heart of nature-based solutions. 

ZSL London Zoo

A blog for lovers of ZSL London Zoo, bringing you extraordinary animal facts and exclusive access to the world's oldest scientific zoo.

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Do you love wildlife? Discover more about our amazing animals at the UK's biggest zoo!

Conservation

We're working around the world to conserve animals and their habitats, find out more about our latest achievements.

Science

From the field to the lab, catch up with the scientists on the cutting edge of conservation biology at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology.

Education

A day in Discovery and Learning at ZSL is never dull! The team tell us all about the exciting sessions for school children, as well as work further afield.

Artefact of the month

Every month, one of the pieces held in ZSL’s Library and at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo will feature here as Artefact of the Month.

Wild About

Read testimonials from our Members and extracts from ZSL's award winning members' magazine, Wild About.

Chagos Expedition

The Chagos archipelago is a rare haven for marine biodiversity. Hear from the team about our projects to protect the environments in the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT).

Asia Conservation Programme

ZSL works across Asia, from the famous national parks of Nepal to marine protected areas in the Philippines. Read the latest updates on our conservation.

Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation

An Open Access journal for research at the interface of remote sensing, ecology and conservation.