After 28 elephants were killed by poachers with AK-47s, it appears that military helicopters and 600 soldiers equipped with night vision gear are insufficient to protect the endangered forest elephants in Cameroon's national parks. On March 13, 2013, Reuters reported via Yahoo! News that in early 2012, “heavily armed poachers on horseback from Chad and Sudan massacred some 200 savannah elephants in Cameroon's Bouba Ndjida National Park.”
As a consequence of the early 2012 killing of 200 savannah elephants in Cameroon, officials “deployed military helicopters and 600 soldiers equipped with night vision gear to try to protect the park and its wildlife.”
Despite the military involvement in trying to protect endangered elephants, poachers, however, are not diminishing their elephant hunt and are continuing to kill elephants for their valuable tusks.
The 28 endangered forest elephants that were killed in the Nki and Lobeke national parks in Cameroon between Feb. 1, 2013, and March 1, 2013, were found by the conservation organization WWF who said on Wednesday that they found “the carcasses of 23 elephants, stripped of their tusks, deep in the Nki national park. A further five were found without their tusks in the Lobeke national park, further to the east.”
The tusks of the 28 killed elephants are part of a big black market that sells ivory for hundreds of dollars per kilogram. Most of the ivory is being smuggled to Asia, especially China, and is eventually turned into jewelry and ornaments.
In contrast to the African savannah elephants, the African forest elephants have straighter tusks which are easier to transport and to package.
“With demand for ivory rising from Asia, poachers have reduced the population of Africa's forest elephants by 62 percent over the last decade, putting the species on track for extinction, conservationists say.”
According to Zacharie Nzooh, a WWF representative for the Cameroon region, the 28 killed elephants lived in what is supposed to be a protected area in the Congo Basin. It is estimated that there are only about 2,000 forest elephants left and if no urgent measures are taken, Cameroon’s forest elephants could disappear in less than a decade.