Environment & Climate ChangeNews

‘They’re Destroying Our Farms’: Residents Of Rann Justify Killing Of Elephant

One resident of the Borno community said he was not aware of any law in Nigeria that prohibits the killing of endangered animals. 

Alhaji Babagana, 29, and other residents of Rann, Borno in North East Nigeria, say they have been disturbed by an influx of elephants in the last four years. According to him, elephants, which are the largest land animals alive, have been encroaching on their farms in large numbers and frustrating their efforts. 

On Monday, Dec. 18, a video shared on X (formerly Twitter) showed security agents firing multiple shots at an elephant until it collapsed, breathless. The incident drew wide condemnation.

But residents of the community in the Kala Balge area of Borno said the animals are a threat to their livelihoods as they eat their farm produce. Babagana said the problem has persisted even though they have complained several times to the Borno State Government.

HumAngle gathered that the killing of the lone elephant happened on Dec. 17. Personnel of the Nigerian Army and Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) saw the elephant and decided to kill it. The video showed a man in military fatigue and another in regular clothing shooting at the elephant. After repeated gunshots at close range, they confirmed that the animal had died.

Someone identified as a senior government official, while expressing his joy over the killing of the animal, said, “If we can maintain this effort and kill at least two on ten different occasions, we would have brought an end to the destruction they do to us.” 

Another resident of Rann, Baba Lawan Bukar, who told HumAngle he was not aware of any law in Nigeria prohibiting the killing of elephants, said whenever they chase the herd of elephants in the day, they come back at night to feast on their farms. 

“It’s like magic, the moment our maize, millets or vegetables are due for harvest, the elephants come out. But after that period, they disappear,” the 27-year-old said. 

He added that residents were able to kill the elephant last Sunday while they were on their way from Gamboru to Rann, a journey of at least 33 km. “That was when God granted our people victory on one of the elephants,” he said. 

“No matter where the elephants are coming from, government officials should speak to the people to hold them back, whether it’s from Cameroon or Chad,” Bukar pleaded. 

He said as a result of the destruction caused by the elephants, the locals now go to neighbouring Cameroon to work in fields as labourers so they can provide for their families. 

Nigeria’s Endangered Species Act prohibits the hunting, killing or capture of animals that are considered to be endangered. The protected animals include cheetahs, chimpanzees, giraffes, pangolins, leopards, lions, and so on. The trading of immature elephants is strictly forbidden but mature ones can be traded by those licensed to do so.

The law, however, stipulates that these animals may be killed in the protection of paramount public interest, human life, public health, or in defence of property and other animals.

Last month, Zainab Gimba, a lawmaker representing the region at Nigeria’s House of Representatives, called on authorities to proffer an “immediate and long-term solution” to the problem of the elephants that come annually from the Waza National Park in neighbouring Cameroon. 

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Mahdi Garba

Mahdi Garba covers development, security, conflict, climate & disinformation at HumAngle. He heads the Humanitarian Desk at HumAngle. He tweets regularly @MahdiGarba.

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