Several elephants were killed by gunmen in Mont Peko National Park in western Cote d’Ivoire, according to local residents of the town of Bagohouo. The villagers said they were “shocked” when they found elephants shot several times, and their tusks removed.
“Recently, poachers have increased attacks against elephants at night. We have already alerted the forest authorities about the presence of armed individuals in the clearing where elephants are often found to drink,” said Gaspart Guei, a local villager.
“Out of a population of several dozen elephants a few years ago, there only remain three today,” lamented the face marked Benedict Yrou , another villager. For them, the intrusion of armed men illegally occupying the park seriously threatens the survival of the last elephants.
Mont Peko National Park (34,000 hectares) constitutes one of the largest national parks in Cote d’Ivoire.
The massacre of elephants comes at a time when Cote d’Ivoire’s international football star, Yaya Toure, has vowed to do everything he can in the fight against poaching of elephants in Africa.
International football star Yaya Toure will lend his voice to a UN-backed effort to prevent the illegal killing of elephants in Africa during a World Cup qualification match between Côte d’Ivoire and Morocco.
The Manchester City player said poaching is a serious threat to security, political stability, the economy, cultural heritage and proper management of natural resources in a number of countries.
“We must work together to implement effective measures against poaching across Africa and around the world,” he advocated.
“Illegal wildlife trade is a threat not only to the survival of species such as elephants and rhinos, but also to the means of subsistence and survival of African populations and developing countries,” warned the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Achim Steiner.
In 2011 alone, the UN estimates that more than 17,000 elephants were killed in protected areas. In Côte d’Ivoire, where the number of elephants has dropped dramatically, there are only 800 elephants remaining across the country.
The magnitude of the crisis is a big concern for authorities and experts, as the survival of the species is seriously threatened. The elephant is the symbol of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, and it is one of the protected species in the country.