Anti-poaching measures show encouraging signs of recovery in Nki National Park
Hard hit by poaching, a WWF 2016 wildlife survey report states that Nki National Park has witnessed a drastic decline in its elephant population; from over 3000 individuals in 2005 to barely 500 in 2015. This represents an 85% drop in the elephant population.
The case is similar in neighbouring Boumba-Bek National Park. This has fuelled fears that Nki National Park will have no elephants in five years. Elephants have never been more in danger in protected areas in the Southeast as they are now. “It was disheartening to see that we have been losing elephants at such a dramatic rate. We had to change strategy and act fast,” says Hanson Njiforti, Country Director of WWF Cameroon.
Recent signs have however sparked new hope for Nki. With the help of WWF, the park’s conservation service set up a satellite camp and rebuilt a watchtower near the clearing. Eco-guards are now permanently stationed in the park and regular anti-poaching patrols are carried out in the surrounding zones. Additionally, a wildlife monitoring team spends at least 15 days inside the park every month. “Our effort is beginning to yield fruits again,” says Gilles Etoga, WWF Program Manager for Jengi TRIDOM. “For the past two months we have recorded zero poaching signs. We now witness almost on a daily basis, an impressive number of animals visiting the Ikwa clearing during the day and in the night,” Gilles added. Recently installed camera traps show elephants, chimps and even a leopard.
Seeing all this wildlife caught on camera trap images in Nki National Park is a source of hope. However, despite the conservation success observed so far, there still exists a challenge in sustaining the process. Poachers are always looking for possible opportunities they can use to take down the elephants. “We have to be prepared for poachers to continue or even intensify their efforts,” states Gilles.
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