Ivory Poaching still the Issue

Gabon’s government, blessed with billions of dollars of oil money and miles and miles of virgin rain forest, has made many of the right moves to protect its animals by setting aside chunks of land for national parks, actually paying wildlife rangers on time (a rarity in Africa) and recently destroying a towering mountain of ivory in a statement of its refusal to look the other way. But as the price of ivory keeps going up, hitting levels too high for many people to resist, Gabon’s elephants are getting slaughtered by poachers from across the borders and within the rain forests, proof that just about nowhere in Africa are elephants safe. In the past several years, 10,000 elephants in Gabon have been wiped out, some picked off by impoverished hunters creeping around the jungle with rusty shotguns and willing to be paid in sacks of salt, others mowed down en masse by criminal gangs that slice off the dead elephants’ faces with chain saws. Gabon’s jails are filling up with small-time poachers and ivory traffickers, destitute men and women like Therese Medza, a village hairdresser arrested a few months ago for selling 45 pounds of tusks.

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