Digital News Report- Zakouma National Park, located between Sarh and Am Timan in Southern Chat, is known as the last stronghold for the savanna elephants of Central Africa’s Sahel region. As of 2006, it had an estimated population of around 3,000, but a recent report suggest that that number could have dropped as low as 1000 this year. The main cause of this has been attributed to ivory poachers.
Safety is a major concern for park guards and conservationist in the area due to civil unrest in Chad. Several park guards have been killed in the past few years. However, the Wildlife Conservation Society has said that safety conditions have improved recently and that they can increase elephant conservation work in and around the area to protect the remaining population.
WCS President and CEO Dr. Steven E. Sanderson stated, “we need to continue to work closely with Zakouma’s dedicated park guards and give them what they need to do their jobs, while our own field staff provide aerial reconnaissance and technical support.” He referred to the situation in Zakouma as “dire,” but was optimistic about the future. History has shown that elephants can recover in Zakouma. Until this recent spate in poaching, elephant numbers have rebounded from an estimated 1,100 in 1985 to as many as 3,500 in early 2006.
CNN’s “Planet in Peril” series will partially focus on the poaching issues occurring in Zakouma. It will air on Thursday, December 11th. WCS has established a fund to help save Zakouma’s surviving elephants. Members of the public can support this critical effort by going to: www.wcs.org/elephants