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.