Ivory Coast relocates elephants to save dwindling population

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) — An elephant named Hamed by residents in a southern region of Ivory Coast has been captured and relocated to the zoo in Abidjan as he awaits transfer to a park where authorities hope he will have non-human company instead.

Authorities are catching and relocating wild elephants that have disrupted farming communities, in a bid to save the animals’ dwindling population in the West African nation.

Hamed had made his way from Azagny National Park to the region of Guitry, where he lived for some years until he started to destroy farmers’ land and scare residents.

“At the beginning, like any elephant, we thought that he was the emblem of Ivory Coast and should be honored,” said resident Eric Serge. “But a moment came and he began to be very aggressive, and the whole population began to worry about his presence.”

Col. Jerome Ake, the country’s deputy director general of forests and wildlife, said the elephant will go “where there will be no more nuisance.”

Guitry’s leader, Patrice Loua, called the operation encouraging.

Ivory Coast once was home to more than 1,100 elephants in various habitats. Now, experts estimate only 300 remain, living in small groups or isolation and vulnerable to poachers seeking their tusks for ivory.

The country is considering adopting a law to preserve the animals’ population.

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Toussaint N’Gota in Abidjan, Ivory Coast contributed.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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