To save their imperiled population of African forest elephants, the Ivory Coast is capturing and then relocating the animals to a preserve on the southern coast. Due to human encroachment and resulting habitat loss, the elephants have come into increasing contact with people, destroying their crops and even killing two people outside the town of Daloa. Instead of exterminating the animals to ease tension, the International Fund for Animal Welfare will be tranquilizing and trucking them 10 hours away.
African forest elephants are a distinct species of elephant that inhabit Central Africa. They are smaller than savannah pachyderms, have more oval-shaped ears, a narrower jaw, straighter tusks, and support themselves on fruit, leaves, and bark. The dozen or so animals slated for removal on the Ivory Coast were pushed from their original homes in Marahoue National Park by people fleeing the country’s post-election violence in 2010-11. The elephants moved outside the town of Daloa, where they began to clash with the local population.
IFAW began relocating the elephants by truck this week. About a dozen animals will be sedated and transported 10 hours south to Assagny National Park. The organization staged a mass evacuation of elephants in the country of Malawi back in 2009, moving 83 individuals to the Majete Wildlife Reserve, but this is the first attempt in West Central Africa. The forest elephant relocation should take about a week and cost $250,000. As humans continue to force the elephants into civilization and pursue them for their ivory, conservation groups and wildlife refuges stand as their only hope for survival.