June 27, 2012
-- News media outlets throughout the world have taken note of a dramatically symbolic action by Gabon’s President Ali Bongo Ondimba aimed at saving wildlife.
The New York Times, CBS News, Reuters, the BBC, Radio Netherlands, Agence France-Press, Wildlife News, Voice of America, and the Chicago Tribune are among the dozens of newspapers, broadcast networks, and specialized publications that have taken note of Gabon’s initiative to preserve the forest elephant in its natural habitat.
On Wednesday, June 27, 2012, President Bongo set fire to a 5-ton stockpile of confiscated ivory that had been obtained illegally by poachers and others from Gabon’s forest elephants, a species whose numbers have declined precipitously over the past 20 years.
Lighting the ivory stockpile, President Bongo said “Gabon’s elephants are under siege because of an illegal international market that has driven ivory prices in the region up 750% in just 12 months. I call upon the international community to join us in this fight. If we do not reverse the tide fast the African elephant will be exterminated. In Gabon, we have zero tolerance for wildlife crime.”
Dr. Lee White, executive secretary of Gabon’s national parks agency (Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux) stated “the battle for the survival of Africa’s forest elephants has crept up on us, the true measure of the catastrophe hidden by the dense cover of the forests. In two decades we have lost up to 80% of forest elephants and today parks and wildlife staff across the continent are engaged in a mortal combat to turn back the tide.”
Dr White explained that “the elephant is the rain forest architect – building the trails all other animals follow, dispersing the seeds of hundreds of trees and lianas, opening up the salt licks that other animals frequent. A forest without elephants is a sterile, characterless place, whereas at the rumble or the trumpet of elephants the forest reverberates with life.”
For more information about Gabon’s national parks and the Government of Gabon’s initiative to reduce poaching and the ivory trade, contact Dr. Lee White by telephone at +241 07 84 00 63 or by email at lwhite(at)uuplus(