[one_third][/one_third]An Elephant has been found dead in the proposed Mak-betchou Chimpanzee Sanctuary SW Cameroon. The elephant was found recently by a Field Guide Njingu James working for the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF). Njingu James is reported to have got a foul odour while he was looking for rattan in the forest but did not bother to verify where the odour was coming from. However after spending one week in the forest while he was returning to the community, the smell was so strong that he went to check it out. On his arrival to the scene, he found a carcass of an elephant that was killed in Mak-Betchou Forest Block, with the head chopped off and without any tusk. He immediately reported the incident to the ERuDeF Field Office in Menji-Fontem, Lebialem Division. From the 5th to 7th of March, ERuDeF dispatched a fact finding mission to the scene made up of the Chief of Post of Forestry and Wildlife for Fontem, Ngnitchiba Gah Edrissou, ERuDeF Staff and the Field Guide to Mak-Betchou forest to collect evidence for this incident.
The information gotten was very sad. An adult elephant already in an advanced decomposition state covered with soot and infested by maggots, flies and other insects with the head, cut off without tusks, separated from the rest of the body, lying about 40 centimeters away. The Elephant was killed in the Northwestern part of the proposed Mak-Betchou Chimpanzee Sanctuary, precisely in latitude 604619 and longitude 588056.
According to ERuDeF’s Officer in charge of Wildlife and Protected area, Enokenwa Allen Tabi, the killing of this elephant is a very bad sign ‘We met the carcass of the elephant without the tusks. This implies the villager or whosoever killed the elephant was not looking for meat to feed his family! This could be the beginning of organized crime to search for tusks in the Mak-Betchou forest and immediate action must be taken to prevent subsequent killings” Allen said.
The Chief of Post for Forestry and Wildlife at the Divisional Delegation of Forestry and Wildlife lamented the killing. “The government of Cameroon is totally against the killing of Elephants which play a very important ecological role, particularly in maintaining the diversity of flora and fauna. The Forestry law is very clear. Elephants must not be killed! I strongly condemn this act and if the perpetrator is caught, he shall face the full arm of the law” He was however hopeful that with the recent decision by the Ministry of Forestry with the technical assistance of ERuDeF to gazette the Mak-Betchou forest, this might provide a safer home for the elephants.
Elephants it would be recalled have a profound impact on their environment: they bush over trees creating clearing and grassland, dig for salt and disseminate seeds of many plants, creating a patchwork of many forest types and habitats for many other species, and thus exert an influence over age and structure of the flora and specific composition of fauna in their habitats. The ecological relationships may have economic consequences. For instance, some tree species important to timber industry have large seeds that are disseminated mostly by elephants. If these animals were to disappear, the natural regeneration of these trees could be in jeopardy.
Elephants in Cameroon just like other wildlife species have suffered the effects of poaching which has greatly caused their population to dwindle in the last decade. In 2012, over 200 elephants were killed in the Boubadjida National Park in the North of Cameroon and Elephants continue to be slaughtered in other parts of the country. There is therefore need for a concerted effort to prevent further killing of elephants. In order to further support government action, ERuDeF will in the near future be launching a Southwest Wide project known as “South West Cameroon Elephant Monitoring and Conservation”
By Regina Leke