Human-elephant conflict: Lee-White a danger for pachyderms? (Gabon)


Loic Ntoutoume, Gabon Review

Date Published
Translated from the French by an automated online translation service, so please excuse the roughness. See link for the French original.
See link for photos. 
Powerless in the face of the resurgence of the human-elephant conflict, the Minister of Water and Forests has now opted for the organization of administrative battues by a special unit or by approved hunters; a decision which would worsen the status of “critically endangered species” which weighs on the African forest elephant, of which Gabon is home to more than 50% of the population.

Four months after the provincial consultations on the human-elephant conflict and a few weeks after the 26th UN Climate Conference, Gabon, through its Minister of Water and Forests, seems to find a solution to the human-wildlife conflict. After having erected electric fences to the tune of one billion CFA francs, a model inspired by Kenya, Lee-White decided to manage this problem through administrative battles, coordinated by a special unit or by approved hunters.

In a letter to his colleague from the Interior dated November 22, the Minister in charge of Water and Forests requests the implementation of the decree setting the conditions for authorizing administrative battues. “As part of the responses to the problem of the human-wildlife conflict, which has become a real national concern, the government of the Republic adopted, during the Council of Ministers of June 10, 2021, a draft decree setting the conditions for authorizing beatings. administrative”.  A choice that does not fail to arouse astonishment and criticism on the side of civil society actors.

This decision would sufficiently prove that the contours of the human-wildlife conflict are not well understood by Rose Christiane Ossouka and her team. “The slaughter of elephants is contradictory to the commitments of the Head of State and for us, it is an unsustainable initiative that tarnishes the image of agriculture. Cohabitation between producers and elephants is possible on condition that the necessary strategies are implemented and which are available”, reacted the general coordinator of the NGO IRDC-Africa, Hervé Omva.

If the Minister of Forestry has very quickly forget his statement on the Facebook page of the Ministry on the occasion of the World Day of elephants, namely, “The eléphants are essential to our biodiversity. Their preservation and that of their habitat constitute a major stake for our environment”, the executive secretary of the NGO Brainforest wishes to have the number of pachyderms to slaughter in this operation decided alone at the level of the central administration.

“Mr. Lee White, about 95,000 elephants on the territory according to a recent study WCS, how many elephants should we shoot for eradicate of conflict human / elephant so much  shouted all over the country? Asked Marc Ona Essangui, reminding the minister that he is not the only one to decide the issue. “All the stakeholders must come together to propose lasting solutions. Have a little respect for the other stakeholders who are the victim populations, the NGOs, and the other decentralized administrations”.

What will be done with the tusks of the pachyderms which will be cut down during these beatings? What will be the conditions that determine the execution of elephants? So many questions that deserve answers from the minister with broad attributions who decides the future of our waters, our forests, our maritime space, our lands and our environment. Sacred Gabon.