Armed groups and highly-militarized poachers cause a decline in the wildlife population of central Africa, putting many species under the verge of extinction, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has said.
Data shows that while the Democratic Republic of Congo, for instance, had about 20,000 elephants in the Garamba National Park in 1980s, it has come down to about 1,100 – 1,400 today.
There are only 40 giraffes left in the park, due to continuous poaching of the animal for its tail, which is used to make flywhisk, a symbol of authority in the region.
The number of eastern chimpanzees in eastern the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) came down by 80 to 98 percent.
Operation of outfits such as Sudan’s Janjaweed militia, Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army, Central African Republic’s rival Anti-Balaka and Seleka fighters, Sudan’s People’s Liberation-In Opposition along with poachers in the region makes wildlife conservation an extremely difficult task in the region.
The importance of engaging local communities in fighting poaching, and of enhancing their alternative livelihoods, has now been widely recognized across various national, regional and global fora” said Bianca Notarbartolo of the UNEP.
“But such commitments have yet to be matched by enough effective implementation,” she said.