It is with regret that African Parks reports the recent poaching of two elephants in Zakouma National Park in Chad and five in Garamba National Park. In addition, the new African Parks team in Liwonde National Park also recently discovered the carcass of an elephant that had been poached.
The incident in Zakouma involved the poaching of two adult females in the west of the park; a tragedy that also left two calves without their mothers. The younger of the two calves, estimated to be less than
two months old, was transported by the Zakouma plane to the park headquarters. It was being hand-fed until it died on Monday after succumbing to the trauma it had experienced.
The situation in Zakouma was detected during a routine aerial surveillance flight when the park's pilot observed a herd of about 30 elephants congregated in a defensive position and two poachers and their horses hiding under a nearby tree. He alerted the control room at Zakouma and a nearby anti-poaching horse patrol was instantly diverted to the area during which they discovered that the tusks had been removed from one of the carcasses. Immediate efforts to track the offenders were hampered by rain which covered their tracks but follow-up operations are still underway and a reward has been offered for information leading to their arrest.
Sadly the incident brings to an end Zakouma's four year record of no poaching inside the park. The reality is that detecting small poaching teams and tracking and apprehending them is more difficult than with larger groups.
The incident at Garamba was equally tragic and involved the discovery of five elephant carcasses and the offending poachers in an area between the park and the Azande domaine de chasse. Despite the rapid intervention by three patrol units to the area, the poachers managed to escape and efforts to track them have been impeded by high water levels and long grass which is the norm at this time of the year.
The discovery of a single poached elephant at Liwonde National Park in Malawi is the first indication for the African Parks management team as to the challenges that lie ahead. In July, African Parks entered into agreements with the Government of Malawi to manage Liwonde National Park and Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve for 20 years.
"While it pains me to be the bearer of poaching news, I am confident that our follow-up operations and rewards will yield some results, "said Peter Fearnhead, CEO African Parks.