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Nigeria: Saving the surviving elephants in Yankari National Park

Nigeria: Saving the surviving elephants in Yankari National Park

Nigeria

The Yankari National Park in Northern Nigeria, has the country’s largest surviving elephant population estimated at 350.

But the continued survival of the elephants is in jeopardy as poachers have taken their activities to the park.

With scores of tourists from across the world visiting the park, authorities are being asked to put measures in place to stop poaching.

Poachers are the greatest risk for this reserve. They kill the animals and sell for meat.

The figures of poaching and illegal grazing are declining thanks to the training we have received as well as the weapons we now have.

“Poachers are the greatest risk for this reserve. They kill the animals and sell for meat,“Abdullahi Gerba, a reserve guard said.

Abdullahi has been a vital member of the forest guard.

He helps his colleagues manufacture rifles to fight poachers and other illegal encroachers including those who tap Acacia sap at the park.

The army of rangers has been equipped with at least 200 rifles. They patrol the park day and night, ward off potential poachers and other forms of threat that could endanger the reserve.

“The statistics of the grazing and poaching is now limited because of the training we received and the position of firearms in our hands,” one of the rangers Abdulahi Hashimu said.

With remarkable success in finding solutions to poaching in the park, the managers now have to focus on how to stop the Islamist militant group Boko Haram which operates in northern Nigeria from extending their activities to the reserve.

“In the past we recorded about ten to twenty elephant carcases per year. But last year we only had two. Its not good to record even one but I think things are improving slowly but I believe with more funding with more attention we have potential to do better,” Nechamanda Godfrey, project manager Yankari project.

Officials of the Yankari park say they will not succumb to fear. They are instead focused on protecting the elephants in the zone.

The Yankari park was created as a game reserve in 1956 and later upgraded to a national park in 1991.

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