YAOUNDE (Reuters) - Cameroon and Chad have signed an accord to ramp up efforts to fight poachers who kill hundreds of elephants a year in a protected park on their common border, ministers from both nations said.
Both central African countries suffer from rampant poaching of elephants and other species for ivory headed mainly to Asian markets and for the bush meat trade. Observers say the rising wealth of east Asian countries has caused a jump in the price and demand for ivory in recent years.
The protected area is more than 300,000 hectares, including Cameroon’s Bouba Ndjidda park and Chad’s Sena Oura park, Cameroon Forestry and Wildlife Minister Elvis Ngolle Ngolle said late on Tuesday, as he signed the deal with Chad’s Environment Minister Hassan Terap.
Of that area, the Chadian side makes up only about 70,000 hectares but has most of the elephants, numbering around 3,000 Terap said, adding that armed poachers had reduced elephant numbers from 5,000 five years ago. Cameroon’s government says Bouba Ndjidda has just 300 elephants left.
Measures include better cooperation between authorities running the parks and boosting numbers of armed rangers. Conservationists say poaching is rife and worsening in both countries.
As well as elephants and the rare black rhino, the parks are also home to monkeys, buffalo, porcupines and two dozen species of antelopes, all of which are poached for their meat.
“We are ... very determined to preserve ... them for the economic and cultural benefits of our people,” Ngolle said. “We will do everything to protect them, especially the elephants that are under serious threat from illegal poachers.”
He added: “We will need a large number of well-trained and well-armed eco-guards so that they can be able to face the illegal poachers who are operating all over the protected area. Very often, they are well-armed.”
Terap said: “We want to join hands with our neighbour Cameroon, to end the onslaught on wildlife and nature.”