The Minkébé National Park in Africa has a rich variety of wildlife species. WWF believes that this place hosts the largest population of forest elephants in Africa. Other common species in this reserve are gorillas, porcupines, African golden cats, squirrels, duikers, red river hog, and many others. Unfortunately, during the last decade, this oasis of wildlife has been decimated by poachers. Forest elephants alone lost 25,000 members which represent 81% of the population.
A team of researchers at Duke University took an interest in the Minkébé National Park and its status as a main African reserve for forest elephants. Their findings brought to light the fact that the number of such a species decreased by 78%.
The Minkébé National Park covers a wide area of 2,900 square miles in the country of Gabon, and it represents a key sanctuary for many species hunted down by poachers. Illegal hunters increased their interest for elephants for their valuable ivory. Asia has a high ivory demand as it sees these tusks as an important element in their art of carving. Unfortunately, this cultural habit comes to the detriment of forest elephants that have been declared an endangered species in 1990.
One of the authors of the study, Duke professor John Poulsen stated that Central Africa has a population of forest elephants of 200,000 out of which 100,000 found sanctuary in Gabon. However, 25,000 of specimens fell victim to poachers which represent a threat to the preservation of this species. Minkébé is trespassed not only by Gabonese poachers but also by hunters from neighboring areas. They are tracking elephants down in the south part of the African reserve. This region is 36 miles away from the nearest road. Once they obtain their goods illegally, they travel to Douala which is a major ivory trade market.
In order to discover the real situation of forest elephants, the researchers collected data from two major surveys that analyzed this situation two times at a distance of 10 years. As the park is abundant in vegetation, data revealed two fronts from where poachers are decimating wildlife population.
The Gabonese government is aware of this critical situation. As safety measures, the policymakers sent double the funds for the African reserve. Gabon is also the first African country that decided to eliminate all discovered ivory by burning it. The government has also acknowledged the forest elephants as a fully protected species. On the other hand, there is little to no action against illegal trespassing.
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