Gabon’s Ivindo National Park is a place filled with magic, with waterfalls roaring into pristine forests and some of the last big tusker bull elephants on earth. Ivindo has long been isolated from the rest of the world because few roads reach its remote borders. However, that is now changing as an influx of mining and logging concessions spring up around the park. With this increased access comes an increased threat of poaching.
Ivindo’s Forest Elephants Under Threat
Ivindo is now one of the next places in the firing line of elephant poachers. Poachers have killed at least 65% of Central Africa’s forest elephants, but until now Ivindo has remained a stronghold because of its seclusion. Gabon has just 10% of Africa’s rainforests but more than half of its surviving forest elephant population. Poachers, who can now sell ivory in Gabon for ten times what it was worth only five years ago, have already poured into the country’s Minkebe National Park. Illicit gold miners in the country have been linked to massive elephant poaching, as well as to the trafficking of arms and drugs.
Gabon’s National Parks Agency is now ready to do battle with the poachers. The agency has committed to fixing the situation in Minkebe and to preparing Ivindo to remain safe. The Agency was able to raise significant funds for its planned elephant protections, but needed additional money to increase patrol activity in Ivindo and improve an intelligence-gathering network in the greater Ivindo Region.
Elephant Crisis Fund Support to Ivindo
The Elephant Crisis Fund provided Gabon’s National Parks Agency with a grant to fund field patrols and an intelligence-gathering network. The field patrol will involve a growing number of law enforcement agents from the National Parks Agency. ECF funding will pay for their expenses, which include food, fuel, transport in dugout canoes and field allowances, for six months over the next two years. The National Parks Agency will cover expenses for the other months.
The intelligence network, which has a dedicated unit trained and experienced in special operations, will disrupt trafficking networks and prevent poaching. The ECF funds everything from the team’s daily expenses to training and necessary specialized high-tech equipment. This agency is dedicated to prevent poaching rather than catching poachers after elephants have already been killed. This unit will be trained in self-defense, field medicine, arresting and immobilizing poachers, and prosecution.
By building up the capacity to fight poaching, the Elephant Crisis Fund is helping to ensure that Ivindo remains the haven for forest elephants that it has always been.