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The following release has come from the Wildlife Conservation Society. I hope security has returned to the bai. Michael Fay, who brokered the agreement between the Central African Republic and Gabon that will allow Gabonese soldiers to help safeguard the forest elephants in the trinational World Heritage Site, is in Bayanga, presumably making sure the elephants in the bai are not attacked again. Fay is a major hero in my book as is Andrea Turkalo, who has spent 23 years observing and protecting the elephants in the bai. They were married for many years and in the Peace Corps in the northern CAR, when a massive slaughter of the elephants there was being done by the jinjaweed, mounted marauders from Sudan who carried off the tusks on camels. This is how they got into devoted their lives to the elephants.
WCS Praises Agreement Between
Gabon and Central African Republic Aimed at Improved Management of CAR’s Protected Areas

NEW YORK  (May 18, 2013) —The following statement was released today by the Wildlife Conservation Society President and CEO Cristián Samper in response to the news that Gabon has agreed to help improve the management of the Central African Republic’s protected areas, which are currently threatened by large-scale elephant poaching for ivory, and that security has returned to Dzanga-Sangha National Park.

At least two dozen elephants were killed in Dzanga-Sangha National Park in the Central African Republic, part of the Sangha Trinational World Heritage Site, earlier this month. The Dzanga-Sangha National Park contains “Dzanga Bai,” a spectacular forest clearing, where between 50 and 200 elephants gather daily to ingest mineral salts present in the soil.

Samper’s statement is followed by the full news release issued by Gabon.

WCS’s Dr. Cristián Samper said:

“The good news from Dzanga-Sangha National Park after reports of extensive elephant poaching comes as a huge relief, along with the agreement that Gabon and the Central African Republic have agreed to work together to improve management of CAR’s protected areas. We offer our appreciation to the leadership being shown by acting president of the Central African Republic transitional government, Michel Djotodia, and to President of Gabon, Ali Bongo Ondimba. I want to extend appreciation and congratulations also to a team from Gabon Parks led by Dr. Mike Fay, Senior Conservationist with the Wildlife Conservation Society and Special Adviser to the President of Gabon, for working with partners to secure the area and its world-famous elephants. WCS stands ready to assist the government and people of CAR, our partners in Gabon and the United States, and our long-term partner in Dzanga-Sangha, WWF, in working for a better future for the people and wildlife in Central Africa.”

The following is the news release from the Gabon government:

(Libreville, May 17, 2013) – Upon arrival in Gabon on Wednesday, May 14, 2013, the President of the Central African Republic transition, SE Michel Djotodia was received by the President of Gabon, HE Ali Bongo Ondimba. Among other important issues discussed, including the important role of Gabonese troops in the regional peace keeping force, Michel Djotodia sought and obtained the support of Gabon to improve management of Central African Republic’s protected areas system, which is currently threatened by large-scale elephant poaching for ivory.

At least twenty-six elephants were killed in Dzanga Sangha National Park earlier this month in the forest of Dzanga Bai, a World Heritage site in the south-west of the Central African Republic. The Dzanga-Ndoki National Park contains the “Dzanga Bai,” which is a large forest clearing, unique in the world, where between 50 and 200 elephants gather daily to drink mineral salts present in the soil.

“The first time I visited Dzanga Bai, I was immediately captivated by the wonders one of the most fascinating natural wonders of the world, ” said Professor Lee White, the Executive Secretary of ANPN. “This is one of those places that every human being should be able to see in his or her lifetime. It is officially recognized as a World Heritage Site, and our world would not be complete should we lose a global natural treasure such as the Dzanga Bai,” he continued.

In recent weeks this area drew intense poaching pressure as law and order in the country broke down. Some of these attacks may also have been the result of local poachers who took advantage of the situation.

A delegation from the ANPN led by Dr. Mike Fay, Senior Conservationist with the Wildlife Conservation Society and Special Adviser to the President of the Republic, who participated in the classification of Dzanga –Ndoki National Park 30 years ago, was dispatched on Thursday 16 May to Bayanga, Central African Republic, to work with the government on a strategy to secure the area and restore conservation activities.

The delegation reported this morning that security has returned. Government authorities in Bayanga are monitoring the situation closely and working with conservation staff to ensure no further poaching occurs.

“Now the work of restoring protection and augmenting capacity must be undertaken in earnest,” said Dr. Richard Ruggiero of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. “It is clear from our experience over the years that protecting elephants also protects people, since conservation hubs become islands of improved governance. International cooperation helps both people and wildlife.”

Share the experience of the National Parks Agency of Gabon Cooperation between Gabon and the Central African Republic is intended to promote protected areas management and will address:

*   The establishment of a legal and institutional framework to respond to the challenges posed by protected area development and management.
*   Development of a National Parks Agency in CAR.
*   Training of staff working for the conservation and management of protected areas.
*   Establishing improved relations with conservation programs in other countries of the Central African Region to share experiences, address cross-border poaching threats, and to develop beneficial collaborations with the global conservation community.

“This agreement is a great example of a ‘south / south cooperation’” said Professor Lee White. “Africa has lost 70% of its forest elephants in 10 years and even in Gabon, where we have been less affected, 30% of our elephants have been killed during this period. We hope that we can help our colleagues in CAR to preserve Dzanga-Sangha, which is one of the most important protected areas in Africa and to restore the other protected areas that were once the countries pride and joy.”

Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba expressed the hope that regional institutions (ECCAS, COMIFAC, RAPAC) and Conservation NGOs will accompany Gabon and Central African Republic in responding to this challenge. “There is a clear link between blood ivory and civil instability in Africa, making this much more than just an environmental issue. We should all work together to restore sound governance in CAR, which will protect both its people and its spectacular wildlife.”


14 thoughts on “Great News for the Forest Elephants in Dzanga-Sanga National Park”

    1. hi vic, i understand your anger. kenya is shooting poachers, and its wildlife rangers are getting shot by them. first the elephants have to be guarded, which takes diplomacy and political pressure to get up the resources. An agreement was just cemented between the new Seleka government in Central African Republic for Gabonese soldiers to come into CAR part the trinational World Heritage site and secure the elephants, 26 of whom were just massacred. Hand in hand with such initiatives, diplomacy, political pressure, and education has to dry up the Chinese and Asian markets.

  1. The only way to stop murder pain,fear,and alarm,is to shut down the carvers ..even god,if there is one ,has turned his back on these creatures.can anyone get the animals out of china then pull the plug out and sink the lot of it

  2. Thanks Alex ,it just sickens me and many others,to see this murder go on and on,day in day out.i sincerely hope these so called people meet a violent by the sword.die by the sword.

  3. Hi Alex,do you happen to know if any elephants have returned to the bai.. And is there any good news from the area.fingers crossed, many thanks,vic.

    Hi Vic, last i heard they hadn’t. i don’t think they’ll return for a while, if ever. good news is that serious efforts to secure the elephants around Bayanga are underway.

  4. Hi Alex ,I am a bit confused ,I read somewhere that the leader of sleek a rebels is himself an elephant poacher yet he ordered the 17 poachers out of dzanga, do you know how this came about,please .though I am glad it did.many thanks,vic.

  5. Have there been any sightings of elephants at the bai,and has poaching stopped.

    yes to both, vic. all quiet for now. but that could change any time. keep yr fingers crossed

  6. Hi Alex,I will keep my fingers crossed.wish I had the time and most of all the money to help the anti poaching teams in Africa ,feel so helpless here in England.i follow the poaching of wildlife every day on iPad ,makes you feel ashamed to be human. Let us hope it all ends soon.good luck to all those trying to stop all this senceless killing.

  7. Hi Alex is it possible for you to give an update on the situation in dzanga,please,and also is there any progress on the ivory ban in Thailand.will this awful trade ever end in china and other ASian countries.HEres hoping,vic

  8. Hello Alex ,i have not heard from you lately. I do not know if you are busy with other things, but I have been reading about the Lra ,and their elephant poaching.i was wondering why they are still about.can the armies not clear them out of AFrica.THeir leader seems a nasty piece of work.I also read about Al shabaab, and they do not appear to be much different.Is it not time they were taken care of to.There has to be some army or some kind of force to eradicate these so called human beings.

  9. Hi Vic, the situation is not out of the woods yet. too dangerous for the people who were looking after the Bayaka and the elephants to return as yet. the seleka rebels are still around and they haven’t been paid, and they could go after the elephants for their ivory as a group of them did before. or vent their anger on the local population. you might want to check out mIchael fay’s interview on NPR a couple of weeks ago, but that was the situation then. It’s constantly changing.

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