Rangers gunned down by elephant poachers in DRC

Four rangers in the Democratic Republic of  Congo’s Garamba National Park have been gunned down and killed as they protected elephants from heavily-armed poachers.

Elephant poaching has become more widespread leading to a number of encounters between poachers and rangers trying to protect the herds

Elephant poaching has become more widespread leading to a number of encounters between poachers and rangers trying to protect the herds Image by Ryan Poplin / CC BY 2.0

The shot men were patrolling the park, as part of a ten-strong official team,when an elephant’s transmitter collar was located in a camp set up by hunters. The rangers exchanged fire with the illegal hunting group but then had to disperse at the force of numbers they encountered, according to a spokesman for the park.

The Sunday Express reported that the dead were three wildlife rangers and a member of the Congolose Army who was assisting with the patrols. African Parks, which runs the Garamba reserve, dispatched a helicopter to the aid of the under-fire warders and succeeded in rescuing six of the group. However they were unable to save the other four, whose bodies were later recovered by a patrol team bolstered by additional personnel.

Mr Erik Mararv, Garamba's park manager, disclosed that clashes with poachers had increased over the past year with eight people already losing their lives in 2015. He said that the park authorities had expanded their area of coverage over the last six months, leading to a number of serious confrontations with the armed poachers.

The United Nations has raised its profile in this area recently with calls to increase resources in the fight against trafficking and poaching, particularly against groups operating in Africa. It is estimated that the continent's elephant population has fallen by 60% in the past ten years as 30,000 elephants are poached annually to supply the lucrative Asian ivory trade.

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