Chasing Down Poachers


In a park in the Congo Eco, guards are beginning to track down poachers. The name of the park is Odzala-Kokoua National Park, and it is where many poachers are hunting elephants. It is estimated that 62% of the elephant population in central Africa has been lost in the last decade. When I asked Mario what his thoughts were he said, “It was sad because they are a peaceful animals and it would affect the entire ecosystem in Africa if they were to become extinct.”

This drastic decrease in population is why the Eco guards are trying to stop it. Right now there are 76 Eco guards patrolling an area of 8,390 miles, which is about the size of Connecticut. Although the number of Eco guards is small, they know how to find the poachers because many of them were once poachers themselves. This is because the country grants these poachers amnesty if they give their weapons and confess to poaching in the park. One problem that the Eco guards face is that many times they end up arresting neighbors, friends, and in some cases family members. Another problem is that they receive many threats. The Eco guards not only have to worry about poachers but also government corruption. When the eco guards raid a camp many times they will find military issued guns because the military sells their guns to poachers. Whenever a poacher camp is found the eco guards torch it to send a message to the poachers.

Although the eco guards are trying to help the elephant populations they are not just being hunted in the Congo. Somali pirates have been hunting elephants with automatic weapons. Also in Sudan, poachers killed 86 elephants and 33 pregnant elephants all in one week. In Cameroon the International Fund for Animal Welfare found that at least 400 elephants were killed between January and March 2012. All the elephants are being killed for their tusks. Many times poachers will cut the trunk off then take out the tusks and they will leave the body to rot. It is a truly horrific act that needs to be stopped. There needs to be more people like the Eco guards in order to end this madness.