RRF LAUNCHES AN EMERGENCY APPEAL TO COMBAT MILITANT ELEPHANT POACHING IN DRC
As poaching in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) escalates, the Rapid Response Facility launched a public appeal to support ranger teams.
The RRF launched an emergency appeal for funds in October 2014 to tackle an upswing in poaching activity in Garamba National Park in DRC – a World Heritage Site that has been listed as ‘in danger’ by UNESCO.
Unprecedented attacks on Garamba’s elephants.
World Heritage Sites are those that have been identified as important to humanity and thus, ‘no go’ areas for exploitation. As well as being a highly important site in its own right, Garamba is home to an extremely important population of elephants whose genetic make-up is unlike that found anywhere else on earth.
Unfortunately, however, Garamba National Park, is at the centre of a very unstable region – caught between guerrilla gangs to the south and west, and civil war to the north and east. To make matters worse the high price of ivory makes it an extremely lucrative source of income for rogue militias, who exploit the ivory trade to support their ongoing activities.
In June 2014, FFI reported an unprecedented and disturbing poaching incident in which an entire herd of nine elephants (including calves) was shot and killed from a helicopter. Since then, another hundred elephants have been killed, making a major dent in this unique population.
Like the first incident, these subsequent attacks have targeted not just adult elephants with tusks, but also their young, whose genitals and brains had been removed. In the past, calves have generally been ignored by poachers as they offer no commercial value, so this little-understood and new aspect to the poaching crisis in Garamba makes it even more concerning.
The RRF team has been working with previous RRF grantees Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) and the African Parks Network (APN) to tackle this worrying situation and supporting ranger teams through an emergency grant given in May. However more funding was urgently required to give Garamba’s dedicated rangers the vital resources they needed to protect the park’s elephants from highly-organised, militarised poaching
The herds in Garamba are irreplaceable, and urgent action was needed. The RRF strives to ensure that a short term conflict isn’t responsible for the loss of these magnificent and unique creatures forever.