Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild


Born Free is proud to be supporting an anti-poaching team in Parc W, Burkina Faso (West Africa). Comprising just 25 rangers and a number of community Eco Guards, ‘Team Elephant’ (“L’équipe des éléphants” in French) are desperately trying to protect elephants over an astounding 2,500kmsq.  Unfortunately Team Elephant are facing a huge challenge as the elephants in Park W are under serious threat from criminal gangs determined to kill them for their ivory.

Elephant carcas
Born Free’s Programmes manager Shelley Waterland and Pierre Kafondo, Wildlife Director for Burkina Faso, next to another victim of the bloody ivory trade in Burkina Faso

Poaching of elephants has reached crisis point, particularly in West and Central Africa.  As many as 36,000 elephants are estimated to have been poached across Africa in 2009. This is a startling statistic given that the confirmed number of elephants in West Africa is now fewer than 7,000, between 4,000 and 5,000 of which are found in Burkina Faso, their last remaining stronghold in the region.

A vital habitat for elephants in Burkina Faso is Parc W, a 10,000km2 transboundary Protected Area that spans three countries – Burkina Faso, Benin and Niger, approximately 2,500km2 of this area is within Burkina Faso.

Tragically, the recent upsurge in demand for elephant ivory in China and the Far East has caused alarming levels of elephant poaching inside the Park. The anti-poaching teams are ill-equipped to deal with the sophisticated weaponry of the poachers – both elephants and the people trying to protect them are losing their lives.

I’ve travelled extensively in Africa but have never before been somewhere where the elephants were so terrified.  At the first sign of human activity they ran for cover.  Where previously it was easy to see elephants inside the Park, now they are in hiding and it has become a fight for survival.”

Shelley Waterland, Programmes Manager Born Free Foundation talking of the elephant crisis in Burkina Faso.

Dedicated Wildlife Rangers in Parc W, Burkina Faso

Elephant Poaching in Africa

  • Elephant poaching and the illegal trade in ivory is a multi-million dollar business often run by highly organized criminal networks.
  • It has been estimated that approximately 20,000 – 25,000 elephants are poached each year for their valuable ivory tusks. 
  • It is usually the most vulnerable elephant populations that are targeted for this poaching – particularly elephant populations in West and Central Africa.  For some elephant populations it is already too late – Senegal may have just 1 elephant remaining.  For other populations, there is still time, but we have reached crisis point in many countries and funds are urgently needed to equip rangers and train enforcement officers.
  • In 2004, there were thought to be around 4,000 elephants in Zakouma National Park (Tchad), today there are estimated to be less than 500 remaining.  Similarly, Central African Republic is reported to be losing around 500 elephants a year from poaching.  If elephant poaching in West and Central Africa is not brought under control very quickly, there will no longer be any elephants left to conserve. 

Make a Donation to Born Free's anti-poaching initiatives here

Donate to our latest elephant protection appeal here



* estimate based on this article in Scientific American

Park W

To see what Team Elephant are fighting for, watch the video about Park W below

Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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