Statement on Violence in Central African Republic

May 10, 2013

With hundreds of elephants in Central African Republic’s Dzanga Bai facing death at the hands of criminal bands of poachers, WCS appeals to neighboring countries and the world community to stop the slaughter.

WCS issued statements today following reports that poachers killing elephants in the Central African Republic had entered Dzanga Bai, which is located in a World Heritage Site. Reports from the field indicate that elephants are being shot from where scientists and visitors have observed elephants for decades. WCS staff was forced to evacuate CAR in late April as violence in the country escalated.

WCS President and CEO Cristián Samper, who visited Dzanga Bai in January, said: “The elephants here face a sure death as criminals obtain ivory, which fuels even more violence in CAR. On my recent visit to Dzanga Bai, I stood in awestruck silence as I watched hundreds of elephants gathering in this incredible area. WCS stands with our conservation partner WWF calling for immediate action to stop the killing of these elephants. CAR’s acting head of state, Michel Djotodia, can help play a leadership role to protect this precious wildlife for the global community in this World Heritage Site.”

WCS Conservationist Andrea Turkalo, who has worked in Dzanga Bai for the past 23 years, said: "Dzanga Bai and the surrounding area represents one of the most important areas for forest elephants in the entire Congo Basin. Our research has continually documented the lives of hundreds of elephants for more than two decades, representing a wealth of information on the lesser known species of African elephant. Allowing criminal bands of poachers to destroy these animals is an unimaginable travesty and sadly represents the need for concrete action to ensure the survival of this iconic species.”

WCS has been in CAR for more than 20 years, in charge of monitoring and research of the elephants of Dzanga Bai. In addition, WCS works immediately across the border in the Republic of Congo to protect the same population of elephants where the government is working to ensure their additional security on that side of the border.

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