20 Poachers Arrested, But Elephant Slaughter Goes On

Even the quickest glance at recent research about elephants reveals a sobering reality. The majority of reports are not about their amazing abilities and keen intelligence, but documents their slaughter at the hands of poachers.

It’s all the more cheering, then, to hear that in southeastern Cameroon, 20 elephant poachers have been arrested. Local authorities found them armed with 45 weapons including chainsaws, machetes and Kalashnikov rifles; a store of ivory tusks were seized as well as meat from elephants, gorillas and chimpanzees.

Forest Elephants in Central African Republic Threatened

It is not only for their ivory tusks that elephants have been hunted in droves to the point of extinction. In Central African Republic, they are being killed for their meat.

Not too long ago, more than 3,400 elephants lived in the Dzanga-Sangha reserve’s rain forests in southwestern Central African Republic. The area has a famous clearing where elephants gather in the dozens everyday. But a rebellion in March that led to the country’s overthrow by armed rebels from a group known as Seleka could spell disaster.

Some 40 elephants at Dzanga-Sangha have already been killed. Members of Seleka and Sudanese hunters are said to be “working in tandem” and killing elephants not only in the open savannah, but in the forest terrain of Central African Republic and of neighboring Cameroon. Hospitals and aid groups are being looted and the World Wildlife Federation has had to evacuate its staff in the Dzanga-Sangha reserve.

What We Can Learn From Elephants: Fighting Cancer

It’s tragic to imagine a world without elephants. New research shows how much we still have to learn about them and from them. Like humans, elephants have few offspring but naturally live a long time. A study suggests that their massive size can indeed help to stave off cancer risk. Evolutionary biologists think that larger animals may have evolved certain protective mechanisms that smaller ones (mice, for instance) do not have.

While it might seem that huge animals such as elephants and whales would be more likely to succumb to cancer, scientists have found that, across species, body mass is not correlated with the occurrence of cancer. Scientists are now at work sequencing the humpback whale genome and plan to compare it to others including the elephant genome, to see if nature has itself devised “cancer-prevention mechanisms that could be translated to the clinic.”

The arrest of the poachers in Cameroon is of course heartening. It goes without saving that elephants are being killed every day. 86, including 33 pregnant females and 15 young, in Chad were slaughtered in the middle of March, reportedly by men with machine guns.

Saving elephants will take not only the efforts of ecologists, conservationists and zoologists, but of governments: can we not say that keeping elephants from disappearing forever demands a global policy; that their killing is equivalent to a natural disaster? What if we elevated the preservation of elephants into, as some have called for, an issue of “human rights,” in recognition not only of their right to survive but of how much we humans need to learn from them for our own survival?

Related Care2 Coverage

Daily Cute: The Happiest Elephant in the World

Do Dolphins, Whales, Chimps and Elephants Deserve ‘Human’ Rights

Humans Are Stressing Out Elephants

Photo from Thinkstock

164 comments

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing

Lisa Zarafonetis
Lisa Zarafonetis3 years ago

Shared on FB.

June Gollatz
June Gollatz3 years ago

When is someone going to take initiative to start educating these people about caring for the environment and caring for animals....they spread religion easily enough, why then isn't taking care of the Earth a big part of that? I never hear caring and loving 'ALL' living things a part of religion...only loving god is stressed!

David V.
David V.3 years ago

They should have been shot on sight.....there needs to be a reward for every dead poacher....ut since they are arrested, i have a good idea what can be done with them. Put them in a fenced in field with nothing but what they are wearing and send some armed animal activists in there with them so they can be hunted. Let's see how they like it!

Claudia Cavallo
Claudia Cavallo3 years ago

I feel so angry, if Chinese and Asian people didn't believe in miracles features of their ivory, these poor creatures wouldn't be killed, it's necessary to take action in Asia and have them to believe in traditional medicines

Ryan B.
Ryan B.3 years ago

So, since they kill elephants for their horns (cut them off). Cut off the poachers "horns" and set them free. Seems to me if the punishment fits the crime maybe the crime will not happen anymore. Makes sense, you all know I am right!

Robert Tedders
Robert Tedders3 years ago

Hmm, I'm all in favour of armed anti-poaching patrols, but anti-corruption measures and better enforcement of existing laws will also help....

Lisa Zarafonetis
Lisa Zarafonetis3 years ago

Hope they rot in helll!!!

Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla3 years ago

Jailing poachers is ok, I am glad! But we need harder actions! Kill the poachers and jail the ones who demand ivory!!!

Don Swanz
Don Swanz3 years ago

Way to go DEBORAH H. Now there are two (2) of us who feel that we should be poaching the poachers and have a bounty on them.

NILS: We are a work in progress. Which means of course, that regardless of our status, we can and should help our neighbors when ever possible. Tis better, much better, to be a part of the solution rather than a part of the problem. Don :-))