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Eugene Nforngwa
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Hunted: Park Rangers Come Under Poachers' Fire in Congo Basin

Yaoundé, Central, Cameroon Science & Environment January 4 @ 11:47am

I would like to do a ground report for you on the rising attacks on park rangers in Cameroon and the Congo Basin.

In 2011, a park ranger was “stripped naked, bludgeoned, tortured and tied to a tree” in the Lobeke National Park in eastern Cameroon. In December 2016, armed poachers opened fire on rangers and soldiers in the same pack, hitting one fatally and wounding another. It followed the killing of another ranger in the Faro National Park in the north of the country earlier in the year. “Many other rangers have have been maimed for life following confrontations with poachers in several parts of Cameroon,” according to WWF Cameroon.

The poachers that attacked in December 2016 were armed with automatic rifles. More and more, poaching gangs are getting more organized and well-armed, compared to rangers who are often underpaid and poorly armed, if at all. They are motivated by a strong global demand (and rising prices) for wildlife products such as ivory and ape parts. Threats don’t only come from organized gangs but also from community members, who see rangers as a threat to their way of life and source of income. The trend is undermining conservation efforts throughout the sub-region, according to officials and park workers.

To tell the story, of how park rangers are increasingly running into death traps in Cameroon as they roam the wild to protect some of the world’s most endangered wildlife such as elephants, gorillas and chimps, I will travel to eastern Cameroon to interview survivors of the last attack and undertake field trips to experience the conditions under which they work. The story will explore the increasing risks of working as a ranger in Cameroon and the subregion and the threat it poses to the conservation of some of the world’s most endangered wildlife species. I will also interview government officials, NGOs and community members to provide broad perspectives and document the daily life of park rangers with words and still photography.

The final story would be an in-depth multimedia package, delivered within a month from the date of commissioning.
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