Target: President Ali Bongo Ondimba, Gabon
Goal: Mitigate elephant population loss crisis with immediate and ambitious conservation measures
Elephant poaching in Gabon has reached a crisis level, with the country losing a third of their forest elephant populations in just the past decade. The country, which is made up of 85% rainforest, is home to over half of the world’s surviving elephants. Near the shared border with Cameroon, which has lost over half their elephants, Gabon’s Minkebe National Park’s death rate is even higher than the national average.
The elephants are killed illegally for their valuable ivory tusks, which sell for $900 per pound. Considered a status symbol in Asia, most of the world’s illegal ivory is sold in Chinese streets. Profits from the sale of ivory often go to funding criminal organizations, such as poaching rings and terrorist groups.
Poachers use snares, poisons, and bait to capture or kill elephants, and sometimes even shoot entire herds down from the air. Poachers have poisoned entire water holes, killing a herd of elephants and a host of other species at once. This illegal hunting of adult elephants leaves calves without their mothers, unable to survive on their own, and further contributes to population decline.
Elephant populations have been falling dramatically since the 1970′s, when there was an estimated 1.3 million worldwide. Now, there are less than 400,000, and the death rate is accelerating at an alarming pace. Up to 30,000 elephants a year are slaughtered for their tusks, while forest elephants are particularly sought-after for their straight tusks which produce a fine grade of ivory.
Gabon, which is currently in talks with China about cracking down on the Chinese ivory trade, should take immediate proactive action against poachers. Harsher penalties and stronger enforcement, particularly near Minkebe National Park and the Cameroon border, should be instated immediately. Ask that the Gabonese government quickly mobilize to address the elephant crisis in their country.
Dear President Ali Bongo Ondimba,
In the past decade, Gabon has lost a third of their forest elephant population. Death rates are even higher than the average near the Cameroon border, at Minkebe National Park. Gabon, with its 85% rainforest, is currently home to over half the remaining elephants in all of Africa, and has reached a poaching crisis that requires immediate action.
I ask that besides asking China, the world’s major ivory purchaser, to more strictly attack the ivory trade in their country, action is taken on Gabon’s side as well. I ask that harsher penalties be handed down to poachers, and that a focus is placed on monitoring and enforcement of these anti-poaching laws.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: DSGPhoto via Creative Commons