Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)
info@southeastlibdems.org.uk

EU pledge to help Cameroon stop elephant massacre

March 22, 2012 1:38 PM
Originally published by Catherine Bearder MEP

The European Union is rallying behind the Cameroon Government after the massacre of up to 350 elephants in one of the country's national parks.

Catherine Bearder, a Lib Dem MEP for South East England, has written to the African country's president to offer help to stop gangs killing elephants.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has said up to 350 elephants in the Bouba N'Djida reserve have been slaughtered by poachers from Chad and Sudan since January.

Catherine BearderCatherine said: "This horrific massacre cannot be allowed to continue. The reports coming out of from Cameroon are chilling.

"A special forces team was mobilised in a bid to track the poachers, but WWF feels it may be too little, too late."

Catherine has campaigned to keep the ivory trade illegal and prevent poachers targeting elephants.

Dozens of MEPs have already agreed to sign the letter in a strong show of united support from across the European Union.

Catherine added: "My fellow MEPs are as shocked as I am by this brutal rampage and it is how vital we do all we can to stop it."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Here is the full text of Catherine's letter:

His Excellency the President of the Republic of Cameroon,

We have watched with horror as the news of the massacre of elephants in the North of Cameroon has reached us, with some reports putting the deaths of up to 600 elephants, and we applaud your swift actions to mobilise your army to the Bouba N'djida National Park.

We are most concerned to hear that the slaughter is a result of the recent incursion of highly armed foreign poachers into northern Cameroon, with the resulting large scale poaching of elephants for their ivory, and that this constitutes an invasion of Cameroonian territory, the wilful slaughter of Cameroonian wildlife, attacks and death of soldiers and that this has been a terrible loss of an important and valuable wildlife resource.

It is clear that illegal wildlife trade is not a small scale, local issue, but a major, organised transnational crime that threatens not only Africa's wildlife, but the security of its borders, its people and its reputation.

Your military intervention in Bouba N'Djida National Park in response to the killings was to be welcomed and we trust that you will sustain this military intervention.

However, we are concerned that further killings in the Bouba N'Djida National Park and in other National Parks in Cameroon or surrounding countries will continue as these armed gangs are clearly well organised and have a professional operation to killing wildlife on what appears to be industrial scale. We feel it is of the utmost importance that the poachers and all those involved or implicated are arrested and prosecuted, and all harvested ivory seized and destroyed.

We are sure you will agree with us that it is important to engage with the Heads of State in Chad and Sudan to launch a full response to this issue that will reassure the global community that these trans-national criminal acts are taken seriously. In addition, we would like to see all those involved in wildlife crimes prosecuted to the full extent of law. Additionally, to avoid similar slaughters of elephants or other species in the future, we consider it important to secure all parks in Cameroon with sufficient numbers of well equipped, armed, motivated and well trained rangers.

We realise that this scale of operation may be a stretch on the resources of one country and we in the European Parliament are at your disposal to help you in any way we can to tackle these urgently needed measures. We would be grateful if you could let us know of specific expertise or resources that you need so that we may add our weight to assist you get all that is required to combat this terrible crime and prevent similar occurrences.

Yours sincerely,

Catherine Bearder MEP

ENDS