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Lake Chad: 3 Endangered Savannah Elephants Killed In Nigeria – Cameroon Border Community

At least three elephants belonging to a herd of 300 savannah elephants were killed on May 16, 2020, in Kala Balge Local Government Area in northern Borno State of Nigeria, HumAngle has learnt.

Cameroonian MP Kamssouloum Abba Kabir, who represents the Far North Region, made the development known in a statement.

The elephants seasonally visit Waza National Park located South of Lake Chad and adjacent to Borno State in Nigeria.

Kabir said that the elephants, staying in Nigerian Kala Balge, was shot in a village about one kilometre from the border between Nigeria and Cameroon.

He said vigilantes of Afadé (Cameroon) quickly alerted the 41st Motoriised Infantry Battalion [BIM], who intervened and prevented Boko Haram elements from gaining control of the dead animals.

The presence of the elephant herd was first known when they were photographed from a United Nations helicopter on December 19, 2019, during a routine humanitarian mission flight over Rann in Kala Balge.

It was the first known sighting of elephants in years in Borno State and Nigerian section of the Lake Chad National Park, the epicentre of a decade-long violent terrorism and insurgency campaign by Boko Haram and Islamic State in West Africa Province.

Kabir told HumAngle that the herd usually migrated to Kalamalou National Park near Chari River during the dry season and returned to Waza National Park and Chad in the rainy season.

Hundreds of elephants tend to migrate between national parks and game reserves in the Lake Chad region states of Niger, Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon, he explained.

A 2006 count of elephants funded by the EU through Cite MIKE (Monitoring of Illegal Killing of Elephants) programme in the Sambisa Game Reserve in the southwestern Chad Basin National Park indicated extensive farmland and human settlement encroachment was affecting the local elephant range.

Since then, the region has become an active war zone with a devastating impact on the local economy, population, and wildlife.

Peter Ayuba, the Director of Forestry and Wildlife in Borno State, told HumAgle by telephone that Borno had lots of elephants and it was important to monitor and protect them.

Ayuba said a memo was sent to the Federal Government for the acquisition of deterrent equipment (firecrackers) and training of villagers to scare them and prevent conflict between the local population and the displaced elephants.

The proposal followed a report by the local Bulama (traditional leader) about the elephants destroying crops and trying to enter the town, he explained.

Borno State Commissioner for Environment, Mr Kabiru Wanori, an engineer, told HumAngle that he was not aware of the killing of the elephants.

Wanori said the state governments had contacted the National Park Service to monitor and protect the elephants and that there were efforts to get international organisations to support the conservation efforts.

Whilst Nigeria wants to protect the elephants, Cameroon’s Kabir is concerned about their safety and wants the herd assisted back to Waza National Park in Cameroon.

Tunde Morakinyo, Executive Director, Africa Nature Investors Foundation, said: ‘’It is very upsetting to see these terrible pictures of elephants having been killed in Nigeria.

“We have so few elephants left, we cannot afford the death of even one elephant. The key question is: What can be done to protect these elephants so this does not happen again?”

Morakinyo added: “We have to recognise that these elephants live in a conflict zone where human life is also in great danger. This makes any effort to protect them very difficult indeed.

“However, this does not mean nothing can be done. I believe we have to recognise that these elephants do not belong to a single country alone.

“They have migrated between Nigeria, Cameroon and Niger for hundreds of years.

“Thus, just as all three countries need to work together to solve the conflict in the region, so too must we work together to protect these elephants.”

“I would like to propose that all three countries should work together to identify the elephants’ migration routes between the three countries.

“And then the three countries should work with the communities around Lake Chad to protect these migration routes and to prevent farming in these routes.

‘’This way we can ensure that one day when peace is restored to the region, the communities can benefit from tourism revenues as a result of protecting these wonderful elephants.

“There have been talks of an economic package to revive the region. Creating new protected areas linking all three countries to promote elephant tourism should be part of the plan for the revival of the region,” he said.

HumAngle gathered that Boko Haram has killed a huge number wildlife in the past seven years of occupying the Sambisa Reserve and Alagarno forest areas.

Among the wildlife in the region are endangered species such as the scarlet-fronted gazelle, African bush elephant and the African leopard.

The region is now inaccessible to conservationists to ascertain how many of the animals are left.

However, HumAngle gathered from sources on the ground that there are no more animals to hunt down and eat, compared to 2013.

The baboons, monkeys, scarlet-fronted gazelles, African bush elephants, roan antelopes, hartebeest, African leopards, spotted hyenas, among others are gone, HumAngle reliably gathered.

Most of the creatures are either wiped out in the Nigerian territory moved into Cameroonian territories of the game reserve that offer better protection.

Conservation in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states is affected by the ongoing insurgency and insecurity.

In February 2013, Boko Haram killed at least six park rangers in a reprisal attack after troops backed by helicopter gunships destroyed their position in a Sambisa game reserve.

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Murtala Abdullahi

Abdullahi Murtala is a researcher and reporter. His expertise is in conflict reporting, climate and environmental justice, and charting the security trends in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. He founded the Goro Initiative and contributes to dialogues, publications and think-tanks that report on climate change and human security. He tweets via @murtalaibin

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