A total of 22 elephants have been killed since March by poachers in Garamba national park which is situated in Dungu district in north-eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), sources in the Congolese Institute for Conservation of Nature (ICCN) said on Tuesday in Kinshasa.
The sources said the poachers took away the ivory tusks of the animals – which are a protected species – and left the meat in the bush.
Reportedly the killings were discovered by park rangers who were on patrol in the southern part of this natural reserve. The rangers discovered that all these animals were killed in the same manner with a bullet to the head.
The rangers also noted that a helicopter was spotted flying on the north-western parts of the park before heading towards the South Sudanese region where the Ugandan army has a military base.
For some time now, the Dungu territory has been gripped by insecurity that was caused by the presence of Ugandan rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) led by Joseph Kony.
Last February ICCN revealed that over 500 elephants have been massacred since 2010 by poachers at the Virunga national park in the east of the DRC.
ICCN director Guy Mbuyama, speaking in Kinshasa during a forum organised to discuss the problem of poaching, warned: “Since 2010, over 500 elephants have been massacred by poachers. The threat is real and if we do not take necessary measures, the elephants may disappear from Virunga national park.”
He said that besides the elephants, the poachers were also killing chimpanzees, gorillas, rhinos, hippopotamuses and Okapis.
The ICCN official said he was surprised to find a lot of bush meat in the markets of South Kivu and North Kivu provinces and yet the authorities were not raising any concerns.