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Habitat loss and fragmentation: African elephants have less room to roam than ever before as expanding human populations convert land for agriculture, settlements and developments. The elephants’ range shrank from three million square miles in 1979 to just over one million square miles in 2007.
Human-Elephant conflict: forest elephants are not only being squeezed into smaller and smaller areas, but farmers plant crops that elephants like to eat. As a result, elephants frequently raid and destroy crops. They can be very dangerous too. While many people in the West regard elephants with affection and admiration, the animals often inspire fear and anger in those who share their land.
What WWF is doing
In the Congo Basin, WWF strives to eliminate illegal hunting in protected areas and end the hunting of forest elephants. WWF advocates for sustainable hunting of less vulnerable species in buffer zones and community hunting reserves which contributes to the survival of wildlife outside of protected areas. This also provides affordable meat to a poor and growing human population.
WWF brought together neighboring countries in the Congo Basin to join forces to protect wildlife from poaching.
The Sangha Tri-national Anti-poaching Brigade of Gabon, Congo and Central African Republic, is an example of WWF’s regional approach to tackle illegal elephant poaching. These “wildlife soldiers” move freely within the area and pursue poachers across borders as a result of this international cooperation. We have also established Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) methodologies in several protected area sites.
TACKLING ILLEGAL WILDIFE TRADE
WWF and TRAFFIC, the world’s largest wildlife trade monitoring network, support a Central African Forest Commission commitment to put a groundbreaking regional network called PAPECALF into place that will strengthen law enforcement and better combat poaching of species at risk from illegal wildlife trade.
The plan calls for increased antipoaching efforts, joint patrols in some transboundary areas, better customs controls at international transit points, more intense investigations, and more thorough prosecutions. Cases will also be monitored for corruption, and action taken against anyone attempting to impede justice.
Since 1989, TRAFFIC has managed the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS) database, which is a comprehensive information system to track illegal trade in ivory and other elephant products. Our work assessing ivory markets in West Africa and identifying illegal ivory trade routes from Central to West Africa and into Asia has played an important role in putting together effective conservation strategies.
BUILDING NEW OPPORTUNITIES
WWF helps to create employment opportunities in industries such as tourism and protected areas management. We promote alternatives like community-based fisheries to reduce poverty and give people a readily available source of protein. This decreases dependence on bushmeat as a source of food and income. In addition, WWF works with local railways, trucking firms and airlines to discourage the commercial bushmeat trade.