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Andy Withers/Flickr

Four Rangers Tasked With Protecting Elephants Have Been Killed by Poachers

9 OCTOBER 2015

Four rangers have been killed in Garamaba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, after their 10-man patrol exchanged gunfire with poachers in the western Azande hunting area.

 

The rangers were tasked with protecting the park’s elephants and had tracked the collar of an elephant to a poachers’ camp, where they were outnumbered.

According to a statement from African Parks (note: their website is currently down), the rangers retreated and six of them were able to be rescued by an African Parks helicopter, which also came under fire.

The bodies of the remaining four rangers were recovered on Thursday, when a reinforced patrol unit accessed the site.

Tragically, this latest incident makes eight people that have died this year in Garamba national park, which is notoriously home to many poachers and armed groups, including members of the Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army, as ABC News reports.

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And according to Garamba’s park manager, the number of disputes between poachers and rangers is on the rise. 

"We have increasingly and more fiercely started to expand our protection zone to cover the whole park in the last six months and this has obviously brought us in to a number of confrontations with various armed groups," he said.

There are around 30,000 African elephants killed each year by poaching - mostly to supply ivory to Asian countries - and this activity has already contributed to the decline of around 60 percent of Africa’s elephant population over the past decade. 

It’s estimated that with the current poaching rates, rhinos could be wiped out in five years, and elephants will be wiped out in two decades.

Meanwhile, scientists are doing their best to help in the war against poachers, but creating spy cameras for rhino’s horns, facilitating drone surveillance, and using mathematical modelling to better predict where poachers will be.

The United Nations has also called on member states to increase efforts against trafficking and poaching, and Sudan, the world's last remaining male northern white rhino, has had his horn removed in the hopes of discouraging poachers. He now has armed rangers guarding him around the clock in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.

Let’s hope we can find a way to stop these poachers soon, before more animals and humans are killed.