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Three Beauties At Rescue Of Cameroonian Elephants 

By Divine Ntaryike Jr — In just eight weeks leading up to March this year, heavily-armed horse-riding poachers presumably from Sudan nearly wiped out the elephant population at Bouba N’Djida, a remote national park in Cameroon’s northeast near the border with Chad.

The World Wildlife Fund estimated that the ivory-seeking poachers critically annihilated the pachyderms, killing some 300 of the roughly 400 elephants left in the parkland.  The carnage provoked a global outcry from conservationists as well as calls for international effort to help halt the decimation.

The alarm bells have apparently chimed their way into the hearts of three beauty queens.  Miss Senegal 2012 and Miss France 2012 [who doubles as Ambassador of the International Fund for Animal Protection] are both heading to the Central African nation to join Miss Cameroon 2011 in raising funds to protect the last remaining Bouba N’Djida elephants.

The elephant-protection crusading beauties will persuade donors at three fundraiser ceremonies slated between July 2 – 6 in the capital Yaoundé, the economic hub Douala and Garoua in the north.  The initiative is the brainchild of Global Intelligence, a previously unknown lobby agency in Cameroon.

“We’re looking forward to massive attendance at all three social functions.  It’s the first time a Miss France will come to Cameroon and we’re hoping thousands will turn out to see her and join her cause.  The ladies will host and animate the fundraiser gala nights,” local TV presenter and the event promoter Polycarp Essomba, told newsmen in Douala on June 12.

The collected funds will be entirely handed over to the ministries of wildlife and defense to be used in reinforcing logistics for the protection of the surviving elephants at Bouba N’Djida,” he added.

At the peak of the elephant massacre at the wildlife sanctuary in March, Cameroon’s Ministry of Defense deployed over 100 soldiers to secure the area from poachers entering via porous borders with Chad to illegally harvest ivory destined for Asian markets, according to WWF. 

For several months beginning December 2011 when the first images of the slaughtered elephants were published, conservationists and the European Union had been mounting pressure on the government to take harsh action.   "We saw this situation coming," said Basile Yapo Monssan, the WWF country director. "We have consistently alerted the government on the alarming growing rate of poaching in Cameroon," he added.

WWF wrote a letter to the prime minister in 2010 warning that radical measures were urgently needed to stop the crossborder poaching.  In 2011, a group of 12 ambassadors followed up with a second letter.

WWF is backing the Global Intelligence effort.  “It is just normal that we support an initiative like this one because it gears toward our mission here in Cameroon.  It could significantly raise awareness among the population which may lead to many people denouncing poachers and turning their backs on bush meat for example,” Janet Moukoko, WWF Communications Officer said.

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