According to a study, the largest elephants in the world live in the Gourma area of northern Mali, an area that extends over 50,000 km2 between Timbuktu and Douentza in the west and up to Ansogo and Bourem in the East. The Gourma elephants, which represent about 12 percent of all West African elephants, have also borne the brunt of the crisis of the north and of the phenomenon of poaching.
Indeed, during the occupation of the northern areas by armed groups, more than 100 elephants have been killed for their ivory because of the absence of state services. This has caused the population of elephants to drop from 400 specimens in 2011 to some 300 in 2015, according to official statistics.
The threat to the existence of these species continues and the US NGO Wild Foundation is sounding the alarm. Despite some initiatives after the occupation, a report by WILD Foundation, an organization working to safeguard migratory species, notes that the poaching phenomenon, which is not new in the area, has for several months made worrying progress. This may be due to the presence of terrorist groups in the region. According to experts, if nothing is done, in the short term, elephants in the wild could gradually disappear from the African continent.
Thus safeguarding the Gourma elephants should be a matter of priority for all involved. Wild Foundation, for its part, carried out in 2014 three water supply points in the communes of Haribomo, Inadiatafane, and Bambara Maoudé, to make it possible for those populations to release the influence of the pond of Banzena, which is the principal feeding trough of the pachyderms.
But the key challenge is security. Gourma, which has been the natural habitat of elephants for a very long time, should be guarded to benefit and support the government of Mali. With this intention, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) started to be interested in the cause of the elephants of Gourma. Its assistance, together with that of the Wild Foundation, will be invaluable in saving the lives of these pachyderms.