Slaughter at Indamane

*For security reasons, no images of our Mali team will appear in these blogs for the foreseeable future

The single biggest poaching incident occurred on the full moon night of the 13th/14th May. Our initial information was that five elephants had been gunned down at Indamane, 28km from Lake Banzena. This seemed curious, as there was no water at Indamane, and all the other elephants were at Lake Banzena, their only source of water in this late dry-season period.

Mali Elephants in the thicket

The day before, two suspicious individuals had been spotted on a motorbike moving swiftly past Adiora in “the Gossi corridor”. Unfortunately this was the one part of the elephant range where we haven’t yet managed to establish “Brigades de Surveillance,” and so were not able to detect and mobilise the response networks quickly enough.

One villager noticed two suspicious individuals, on a motorbike with Kalashnikov and dressed in loose blouson jackets, heavily muffled head, sunglasses and caps pulled down over their faces. They were heading south-west. Most of his family lived around Sartatane 100-150km to the south-west, and he had participated in some of the project meetings while visiting them. He phoned his brother to warn him that these individuals were travelling in the direction of the elephants, and his village. His brother tried to warn the Head of the Brigades at Banzena but couldn’t reach him by phone, and so he traveled through the night by camel to warn him in person. The next day the brigades and vigilance networks sent out search parties and discovered the dead elephants without their tusks.

MEP Camelback Patrollers

Mali Elephant Project Community Surveillance Patrollers (2011)

They alerted the authorities and the Malian government immediately mounted a co-ordinated air and ground search mission. The response was extraordinary and demonstrates the growing awareness of and concern for the elephants, evident at all levels in Mali as our project and the communities have grown stronger. The Commanding Officer assured us that “We will do this immediately- it is our commitment to the elephants.” Two more elephants were discovered and the sad news that one of the elephants had been in the process of giving birth when she was shot. Of the seven, all were adults: three females and four males. So far 4 arrests have been made.


Map Indamane

This is a severe blow, almost doubling the number of elephants killed since January 2012. We are, however, already turning bad to good and creating brigades in the Gossi corridor as well as increasing their ground presence in the south of the elephant range, to where the elephants will disperse once the rains arrive.

We will keep you posted on events in the follow-up period. Thank you for your support, now is the time for the Malians to see that we can continue to “up our game” as they also increasingly do so.

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6 Comments (Post Comment)
Susan Canney says:

Thank you Nicholas, you’ve no idea how encouraging it is to receive generous messages like yours. Do keep checking in on us as we are determined to succeed!!!

nicholas says:

such an inspiring undertaking,this truly is a relic population that the world forgot, you almost dont get any such remote surviving populations of iconic wildlife as these.your work is trail blazing.As africa is gradually carved up and elephant habitats dissapear at a steady and alarming pace, Gourma’s elephants will be an international celebrated population not least due to their remotness, but that is all thanks to your conservation work, so soldier on

Susan Canney says:

This is nigh impossible for several reasons: it would require immoblising the elephants which needs specialist expertise to be able to assess things like using just the amount of tranquiliser for the darts. We did this to attach the GPS collars to just 12 elephants and it was very time-consuming, and dangerous, as you need to find the elephants (their range is vast), wait until they come out of the thicket, choose the right moment so they are not too frightened, and creep up on them. We don’t know the potential negative impacts on the elephants, and there are many more effective things you can do for much less money and effort.

Pete manning says:

Could rangers safely remove tusks so there is no market for them do elephants for feeding or protection

Susan says:

Thank you so much, Mo. I can’t emphasize enough how every single action really helps …… they often join up in ways we don’t immediately imagine or expect to push together in the same direction. We’ve often found that an unexpected coincidence of small happenings – such as chance meetings between people who’ve mentioned the project or the elephants – helps just at the right moment. All strength and love to you too.

Mo says:

Sending strength and love to you and the people on the ground, and especially the elephants. I will help to spread the word far and wide as best I can.

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