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Sun Dec 21 17:08:08 SAST 2014

11000 elephants massacred

Reuters | 07 February, 2013 00:40
Five tons of ivory burns on June 27, 2011 in this file photo in Libreville to mark his government's commitment to battling poachers and saving elephants. File photo.
Image by: AFP PHOTO / WILS YANICK MANIENGUI

Poachers have killed more than 11000 elephants in the Minkebe National Park rainforest since 2004, the Gabon government said yesterday.

The massacre has been fuelled by increasing demand for ivory in Asia.

Gabon is home to about half the world's roughly 100000 forest elephants, the smallest species of elephant, coveted by ivory dealers because of their harder and straighter tusks.

A study by Gabon's government, along with World Wildlife Fund and the Wildlife Conservation Society, found that two-thirds of the forest elephants in Minkebe park had been killed since 2004.

"If we don't reverse this situation rapidly, the future of elephants in Africa will be compromised," Lee White, executive secretary of Gabon's national parks agency, said.

The Presidency said poachers have secret camps in the rainforest. They evade small deployments of park guards and leave rotting elephant carcasses in their wake.

A park official said most of the poachers were from neighbouring Cameroon, where the government has deployed army helicopters and hundreds of troops to protect its elephant population.

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