Ivory Coast’s Elephant Sanctuary Project Faces Uncertainty

Soukaina Sghir
Soukaina Sghir
2 Min Read

The government has adopted a bill aimed at protecting elephants by establishing wildlife sanctuaries, including national parks, nature reserves, and classified forests. However, the lingering ambiguity surrounding the project raises doubts among advocates for animal species.

The elephant is not only the mascot for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations but also the symbol of Ivory Coast. Unfortunately, their population has dwindled by five times in less than 50 years in the country, primarily due to extensive deforestation. From around 3,000 elephants in the 1970s-1980s, the country now has approximately 500.

The government now announces its intention to ensure the protection of elephants. According to the Ministry of Water and Forests, which is leading the project, two potential sites have been considered for the creation of elephant sanctuaries. This idea was inspired by a delegation’s visit to South Africa, where such sanctuaries have existed for many years. One would be located in a savannah zone in the north of the country, and the other in a forested area in the center or east.

However, representatives of NGOs specializing in the protection of animal species fear that it might be an empty promise since no concrete details have been provided—neither the location, opening date, operating procedures, nor the funds allocated for this initiative.

Moreover, these NGOs have not been involved in the wildlife sanctuary project. To date, only a private park near Bouaké offers to shelter elephants to protect them. Elephants regularly cause damage to crops and villages. In mid-November, a man was killed by an elephant near Daloa, prompting efforts to capture and relocate the elephant to the N’Zi Lodge private reserve. The proposed bill also includes compensation for residents affected by elephant-related damage.

Soukaina Sghir

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