In the northeast of Nigeria near the borders of Chad and Cameroon an estimated 250 elephants have been spotted. This is the first time in a decade or more a herd of this size has been spotted since Boko Haram jihadists began their insurgency in the area.
“The sighting of this herd means Nigeria’s elephant population has effectively doubled,” Tunde Marokinyo co-founder of Africa Nature Investors said excitedly
The Sambisa Forest became ground zero for the Boko Haram’s base of operation in 2014. This had a severe impact on elephant populations as three major migration routes go directly through the forest that was once a game reserve the size of Belgium.
Those migration routes followed the rivers and other water sources that Boko Haram used as an escape route during artillery bombardment of their position. The intense fighting and aerial bombardments both there and at the shores of Lake Chad have killed and scared away most wildlife particularly larger animals like elephants.
It had been a mystery as to what happened to the elephants that once called the savannahs in Borno and the Sambisa Forest home until now.
Elephants in Borno State? If this is real it is a very exciting discovery indeed. https://t.co/2AdTCiLLTO
— WCS Nigeria Program (@WCS_Nigeria) December 21, 2019
“It shows that peace is slowly re-emerging,” Kabiru Wanori, Borno State’s environment commissioner, told RFI.
“We have dispatched our director of forests Peter Ayuba, to confirm the sighting and to carry out an impact assessment,” Wanori confirmed.
While the war is dying down slowly the elephants face a new threat as the demand for “beef” has increased far more than elephant or other local meats. As is seen around the world like in the Amazon rainforests cattle grazing destroys habitats and this is no different. Elephants are being pushed further into Cameroon out of Nigeria by the habitat destruction occurring from cattle grazing.
“Gashaka Gumti National Park used to have elephants and lions but because of the grazing pressures they have fled across the border to Cameroon,” explains Marokinyo, whose NGO Africa Nature Investors hopes to train Fulani cattle herders as rangers to protect the Gashaka Gumti from overgrazing in an attempt to attract elephants and lions back to the park