Panic Ensues in Cameroon After Elephants Flee Reserve


Image credit: Marc Veraart/Flickr

Elephants are big, beautiful, animals, but a herd of marauding elephants can also be a serious nuisance. The big feet of a dozen elephants can crush crops, topple houses, and even pose a serious risk people that get in the way.

When a group of elephants were pushed out of the Dja Faunal Reserve in Cameroon, they caused a panic in nearby villages—and kicked up a debate about how to deal with such incidents.The elephants, wildlife officials believe, fled the reserve—which became a World Heritage Site in 1987—due to pressure from poaching. As the illegal ivory trade expands with the backing of organized crime syndicates, incidents like this are not surprising.

Protecting Villages from Wild Elephants

In both Africa and Asia, conservationists take care to separate wild elephant herds from villages.

When the two cross paths, damage is inevitably caused and more often than not it's the elephants that suffer in the end. Electric fences have been shown to be the simplest and most effective protection for houses and farmland, but installing and maintaining these fences can be expensive.

In some places, growing hot chili peppers is used as a natural deterrent.

In Cameroon, Wildlife Director Tabi Philipe Tako-Eta is campaigning the government to pass a law that would compensate villagers for the damage done by marauding elephants.

Protecting Elephants from Villagers

Not everyone, however, believes villagers deserve such compensation.

The curator of Dja Faunal Reserve claimed that it was the locals themselves that were responsible for the poaching—and that they brought their misfortune upon themselves.

The root of the debate, however, is that habitat destruction and fragmentation places animals in a precarious position: Cramped from without and with, always just a stampede away from coming into conflict with their human neighbors.

Read more about elephants:
Elephant Ivory Sale Denied by CITES
It's Twins! Mama Elephant Gives Birth To First Known Male Twins in Thailand
The Plight of the Asian Elephant—New Highway Checkpoint Threatens to Cut Off Elephant Life Line

Tags: Animals | Conservation

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