Elephant Slaughter at Dzanga Bai

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7/26: I took this picture of an elephant family in a small clearing right on the outskirts of Dzanga Bai.
I am posting one photo taken at Dzanga Bai a day for each of the 26 elephants killed by the 17 poachers who entered the clearing on May 7th. 
Please sign the petition to urge the C.A.R. government to do something about it: http://bit.ly/12kHOSt

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8/26: It’s not often that you see an elephant sitting like that.

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9/26: So wrinkly and pink! This elephant is only a few days old.

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10/26: This is what it looks like when a large, lustful elephant chases after you and your child with his penis hanging out.

Related links:

  • (*WARNING: GRAPHIC PHOTOS*) This Huffington Post article was one of the few I saw that actually posted the photos of the carnage.
  • I made a video about Dzanga Bai before any of this happened
  • I also wrote a blog post about my first visit to Dzanga Bai.

See: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6

Elephant Slaughter at Dzanga Bai (6/26)

I am posting a photo a day for every carcass found so far at Dzanga Bai.

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6/26:  This little buddy looks like she is wearing a wig, but it’s actually her mom’s tail! I love the muddy water squirting out of her trunk. On May 7th, 17 poachers entered the clearing and killed 26 elephants for their tusks.

Please sign the petition to urge the C.A.R. government to do something about it: http://bit.ly/12kHOSt

Related links:

  • (*WARNING: GRAPHIC PHOTOS*) This Huffington Post article was one of the few I saw that actually posted the photos of the carnage.
  • I made a video about Dzanga Bai before any of this happened
  • I also wrote a blog post about my first visit to Dzanga Bai. 

See: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5

Elephant Slaughter at Dzanga Bai (5/26)

I am posting a photo a day for every carcass found so far at Dzanga Bai.

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5/26:  Dzanga Bai in black and white looks like a long-lost, prehistoric world. But it exists and will exist as long as we preserve it. Up until March 23rd, tourists were still visiting this awe-inspiring place. On May 7th, 17 poachers entered the clearing and killed 26 elephants for their tusks.

Please sign the petition to urge the C.A.R. government to do something about it: http://bit.ly/12kHOSt

For more information (*WARNING: GRAPHIC PHOTOS*), refer to this Huffington Post article

Please also watch this video I made on Dzanga Bai and read my blog post about my first visit to Dzanga Bai. 

See: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4

Elephant Slaughter at Dzanga Bai (4/26)

I am posting a photo a day for every carcass found so far at Dzanga Bai.

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4/264/26: Elephants are attracted to Dzanga Bai for its mineral-rich soil. This picture was taken from the same viewing platform from which 17 poachers shot at and killed 26 elephants for their tusks on May 7th.

Please sign the petition to urge the C.A.R. government to do something about it: http://bit.ly/12kHOSt

For more information (*WARNING: GRAPHIC PHOTOS*), refer to this Huffington Post article

Please also watch this video I made on Dzanga Bai and read my blog post about my first visit to Dzanga Bai. 

See: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 

Elephant Slaughter at Dzanga Bai (3/26)

I am posting a photo a day for every carcass found so far at Dzanga Bai.

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3/26: These could be some of the (at least) 26 elephants that have been slaughtered by poachers on May 7th at Dzanga Bai.

Please sign the petition to urge the C.A.R. government to do something about it: http://bit.ly/12kHOSt

For more information (*WARNING: GRAPHIC PHOTOS*), refer to this Huffington Post article

Please also watch this video I made on Dzanga Bai and read my blog post about my first visit to Dzanga Bai. 

See: Day 1 | Day 2

Elephant Slaughter at Dzanga Bai (2/26)

I am posting a photo a day for every carcass found so far at Dzanga Bai.

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2/26: These could be some of the (at least) 26 elephants that have been slaughtered by poachers on May 7th at Dzanga Bai. This is not simply an attack on elephants—Dzanga Bai was a sacred, safe place where the elephants could could gather in peace. There is no other place like this on Earth. This photo was taken on March 23rd.  

Please, please sign the petition to urge the C.A.R. government to do something about it: http://bit.ly/12kHOSt

For more information (*WARNING: GRAPHIC PHOTOS*), refer to this Huffington Post article

Please also watch this video I made on Dzanga Bai and read my blog post about my first visit to Dzanga Bai. 

See: Day 1

URGENT: Elephant Slaughter at Dzanga Bai

I am posting a photo a day for every carcass found so far at Dzanga Bai.

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1/26: These could be some of the (at least) 26 elephants that have been slaughtered by poachers in the last week at Dzanga Bai, a unique, natural elephant sanctuary in the C.A.R. This photo was taken just recently on March 23rd, the day that all WWF staff including myself were evacuated and the day that Andrea Turkalo—a researcher who has dedicated her life to the elephants of Dzanga Bai for the past 30 years—called her last normal day there in a Wildlife Conservation Society interview

Turkalo does not know when she will be able to get back to Dzanga Bai. But she recalled her last ordinary day there, on March 23, 2013.  “The weather was perfect. There was a slight breeze. The light was magnificent. In the late afternoon, you get these long rays and a golden aura. I think there were about 80 elephants, and there was a new calf that day with a female I’d known for 20 years, named Delta.  If I had to have a last day anywhere, that was the day I would have chosen.

The baby on the left in the photo above is the very baby to which she is referring. 

If you can stomach the very graphic photos depicting what is happening at Dzanga Bai right now, please see it for yourself here (photos taken and provided by WWF). 

Please, please sign the petition to urge the C.A.R. government to do something about it: http://bit.ly/12kHOSt

For more information, refer to this Huffington Post article

Please also watch this video I made on Dzanga Bai and read an earlier related post I wrote.

Video: Dzanga Bai

A short movie I made about Dzanga Bai, a place I consider one of the most beautiful in the world (best viewed in full screen!). I highly doubt there is any other place that can offer a comparable elephant-watching experience; on any given day, one can see up to 120 elephants at a time. 

A very recent study concluded that over the last ten years, two-thirds of all forest elephants were killed for their ivory. 

The Wildlife Conservation Society separately found that Minkebe Park, in neighboring Gabon, has lost 11,100 elephants since 2004. Most of these killings were likely to have occurred in the last 5 years. Meanwhile in another bordering country, the DRC, the Okapi Faunal Reserve is reported to have lost over 5000 elephants since 1998.

According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the global illegal ivory trade has doubled since 2007In general, most ivory is smuggled to China but Japan is the only country with a preference for the softer ivory of forest elephants.

Here’s an excellent article by the Washington Post about the growing illegal ivory trade.

Check out my last post about Dzanga Bai and consider donating to the Wildlife Conservation Society or the World Wildlife Fund

The Elephants of Dzanga Bai

NOTE (May 11, 2013): Please see my post about the elephant massacre that occurred at Dzanga Bai on May 7 and the video I made (before the slaughter happened) about the plight of forest elephants. I have also been posting a photo a day for every carcass found so farDay 1 (the same post as the first link) Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5

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Earlier this month, I got to visit Dzanga Bai on a free afternoon. Halfway through the 30-minute trek on centuries-old elephant trails and through thigh-deep rivers, it started raining. Hard. I had never been outside in such heavy rain before. In fact, by the end of it, my clothes were much cleaner than when I started. I had been told it was beautiful, but when I got there I found myself in awe. 

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The rain made it even more beautiful in a dreamy, surreal way; tourists seldom get to see the clearing (“bai” means clearing) in this kind of weather. In July the Sangha Tri-National Protected Area, which includes the Dzanga-Sangha Forest, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The site spans an area covering national parks in three different countries but I think that Dzanga Bai, a relatively small place, deserves to be a Site in its own right. Though famed for the large congregations of elephants that gather there, I was blown away by its beauty before I had spotted a single elephant. 

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As the rain cleared, elephants and buffalo slowly emerged from the mist. Though officially only a sub-species of the African Elephant (for unnamed “political” reasons), these Forest Elephants ones are in fact, biologically, entirely different from the Savannah Elephants. 

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Elephants are attracted to this naturally occurring clearing for its mineral-rich mud. Here you can see them digging their trunks in as deep as they can to drink up the salty goodness. 

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The perfectly lovely raised mirador from which you can observe the sights. If you come visit me, I can even take you camping here for the night… 

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That day, there were about forty elephants. On a good day, there can be up to 120! 

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I do apologize if the photos seem repetitive, but I have to settle for quantity and not quality in trying to show you the grandeur of this place. 

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The elephants mingling with other subjects of the animal kingdom. 

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The elephants love the little lakes that form after a heavy rain. 

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On the mirador we met Andrea Turkalo (whose back is to me in the above photo), yet another legend of the area. She has lived here for almost thirty years, spending virtually every day studying the elephants. Some journalists have dubbed her “The Elephant Whisperer”, which seems especially uncreative seeing how she lives only a few kilometers away from Angelique, “The Gorilla Whisperer”

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Dzanga Bai and its inhabitants have such a sacred air to them that it’s almost hard to believe that they are under constant threat from poachers. Almost. Here you can see some snares found in the forest (though these are probably not designed to harm elephants). Bushmeat (some of which is legal) is a popular source of protein for locals here, but the illegal ivory trade is for the big-time poachers. At Dzanga Bai elephant numbers are highest in the middle of night, due in large part to pressure from poachers. Gorillas are not immune to these threats either. 

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Some confiscated locally-made guns, as dangerous for its human owners as its animal targets due to their tendency to explode at random. 

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I am very relieved that people like Andrea Turkalo and the local WWF staff are helping to make sure that this place continues to exist, in all its its biodiverse glory. For all the times I’ve been seduced by some touristy site’s “World Heritage” claim, this is the only time I’ve actually appreciated the true meaning of the designation. Dzanga Bai, like the rest of the Tri-National Protected Areas, belongs to the world. The lucky outcome of some sort of ecological accident, there is no place like it anywhere else. I felt incredibly lucky to be one of a few people looking over a gorgeous, natural clearing, where dozens of wild forest elephants converge while completely habituated to our presence. Let’s hope it stays that way.