Officials at Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or DRC, announced Tuesday that they had discovered dozens of elephant carcasses and had killed three suspected armed elephant poachers who had attacked the park.
The remote 1,900-square-mile park, one of the oldest national parks in Africa, issued an alert that it had been hit by poachers from an area known to house the Lord’s Resistance Army, a local terrorist outfit. At least 33 elephant carcasses had been discovered so far, African Parks Network or APN, a non-profit that manages Garamba National Park said, according to National Geographic. The recent attack comes almost two years after another significant attack in Garamba, which left about two dozen elephants dead.
"Whilst we cannot confirm the source of the threat, we have reason to believe that the major poaching thrust is emanating from the heavily forested Azande Domaine de Chasse (hunting range) to the west of the park. Azande has been a traditional base for the Lords' Resistance Army (LRA) over many years however we are as yet unable to confirm whether the current poaching onslaught emanates from the LRA, Sudanese poaching gangs, local Congolese poachers, or a combination of these,” Peter Fearnhead, head of APN, reportedly said in a statement.
In 2012, dozens of elephants were found with bullet holes in their head, indicating that the animals had been shot from the air, giving rise to allegations that they were killed by military helicopters from Uganda.
Garamba, home to nearly 3,000 elephants making it one of the largest elephant populations in central Africa, has been attracting poachers from the continent’s major ports including those in Kenya, Tanzania and Togo. And, according to APN, its anti-poaching team had located a group of eight poachers, three of whom were killed, and a search was ongoing to locate a second group of poachers that had fled.
“The extremely heightened level of poaching suggests an organised group or groups of poachers focusing their efforts on Garamba," Fearnhead said in the statement.