Community representatives of Gourma challenge the PM: “The poachers are decimating our elephant population” (Mali)



Date Published

Excellency Prime Minister,

We, community representatives: two (2) district council presidents, seventeen (17) mayors, administration: 2 prefects, sub-prefects 11, and the security forces: Gendarmerie, National Guard, Minusma, GTIA circles Gourma Rharous and Douentza, have held, with the support of the Wild Foundation, on November 19, 2015, in the deliberation room of Douentza Circle Board, an emergency meeting on the critical situation in elephant poaching and insecurity in the Malian Gourma area.

At this meeting, participants of a round-table led to a bitter conclusion, which is the origin of the situation of elephant poaching and well beyond the capacity of the local level. It is primarily the development of organized crime in the area, as evidenced by the proliferation of weapons held by the youth of the community. This banditry and the prevailing insecurity throughout the area prevents all state officials, who are ill-equipped, to venture there.

Poachers take advantage of this situation of insecurity in the area to decimate elephants, the area yet monitored by the state and its partners, such as the Mali Elephant Project i.e., Wild Foundation, an organization dedicated to the protection of natural ecosystems and migratory species across the world, based since 2001 in Mali, within the framework of protection of aMalian national unique heritage: the elephants of Gourma.

Excellency Prime Minister, following that meeting, it was decided unanimously to draw your kind attention to the plight of the population of the Gourma elephants in Mali. Indeed, it is a “cry from the heart” as we appeal to you, because the elephant poaching, which had been renewing in intensity since the North events in 2012, was further compounded in 2015. Thus from January to the present, there were a total of 73 elephants killed by unidentified poachers.

It is deplorable that the elephants killers were not worried, despite our cries launched in local communities to help stop poaching throughout the year 2015. These poachers reoffend in peace and start their campaign at the end of the year by slaughtering 16 elephants from 29

October to 12 November 2015.

The elephant population, which will grow and disperse in small groups in the dry season broadcast area, i.e., along the Gourma string of ponds, will be in danger if nothing is done immediately to harass or dismantle the network of poachers, that is, we must say, well established in Malian Gourma. At the current rate of poaching, the Gourma elephants are endangered because of their ivory.

Excellency Prime Minister, the Malian government, through its Ministry of Environment, with the support of the Wild Foundation, had invested heavily to develop water points for the passage of elephants; contributed to the collective community involvement in the preservation of agro a National and International Natural Heritage for the iconic elephant Gourma. As world heritage, the species is protected by international conventions such as CITES and the CBD, ratified by the Government of Mali. The current elephant poaching of Mali, should it continue,
would be likely to impair the ecological, economic, and cultural balance in this part of Mali.

Excellency Prime Minister, the National Directorate of Water and Forests, in
collaboration with the Wild Foundation, had also supported forest officers and local youth to ensure local monitoring of elephant poaching and point out any actions. Currently, banditry, well developed in the area, prevents these officers from doing their job. The international poaching of elephants is a corrupt mafia activity that brings a lot of money by trafficking elephant tusks. The temptation is strong and can be exercised with impunity if the Gourma elephants in Mali do not
enjoy protection of sovereignty of state services, the Army and the National Directorate of Water and Forests.

The service of Water and Forests, responsible for the management of wildlife, although aware of the danger to which the Gourma elephant population is exposed, is faced with structural problems (lack of dedicated anti-poaching services), aggravated by the situation marked by persistent insecurity in Malian Gourma. Indeed, the prevailing insecurity in the area prevents the agents of Water and Forestry, who are ill-equipped, to venture there.

Excellency Prime Minister, if the state marks its presence in the area, if only by military and forestry joint patrols, local people can help foresters to better fight against poaching.

Poachers are indeed known to the inhabitants of Gourma, who are reluctant to report for fear of reprisals. In our elected officials and our communities, the Gourma elephants are a source of pride and a natural resource. If they disappear from the Gourma area, it is as if a part of our life disappears. In the recent past, these elephants attracted many tourists, national and international.

It is permissible to believe that today ivory elephants of Mali supplied arms purchase networks to not only sit down organized banditry in the northern regions against the Malian people, but also to address the symbols of the State of Mali.

Excellency Prime Minister, faced with this calamity, it is imperative to consider, before it’s too late, the idoines aggressively to dismantle the poachers network, to stop the slaughter of the entire route of elephants in the Gourma Malian. For this, the strong measures that we ask from you are:

The synergy of efforts of the Malian Army, the National Directorate of Water and Forests and MINUSMA to be allowed, in the short term, to strengthen global security, guaranteeing the involvement of local communities in the management of issues related to reconciliation, reconstruction, preservation of peace and local development, taking into account environmental aspects in the Malian Gourma area;

The classification of elephant range Gourma of Mali as a zone of insecurity and the establishment of a special force to fight against elephant poaching. This would be called “Save the elephants of Mali Gourma” to help eliminate the destruction of a local natural heritage, national and international: the elephants of Mali;

The installation of a communication network in all areas not yet covered by the elephant range, to allow rapid flow of information and intelligence gathering, guaranteeing the safety of persons and property;

Strengthening personnel (forest officials, National Guard) and their equipment to ensure not only the tranquility of communities, stressed and living in daily fear, but also for the protection of the elephant population, currently at risk of survival.

For our part, we assure you, Your Excellency Mr. Prime Minister, that without delay we will take all necessary measures to:

(i) inform communities and ensure the measures envisaged to eliminate the elephant poaching in all its forms;

(ii) Work with the security forces to be deployed in the area to restore peace and security.

Please accept, Excellency Prime Minister, the expression of our highest consideration.

The Rapporteurs

Mr Yaya Boré, Mayor of the Rural Municipality dangol boré

Mr Younousse Maiga, Representative of the Mayor of the Rural Municipality of Gourma


For elected officials

The President of the Council of Douentza Cercle

The Prime Circle Gourma Rharous

Herewith the list of participants