With nearly 40,000 elephants throughout the country, Gabon is home to the fifth largest elephant population on the African continent, and 50% of the elephant population in Central Africa.
This species is present on 88% of the national territory, a unique situation in Africa where the decrease in elephant populations is always accompanied by a contraction of the distribution area. Gabon is therefore a key country for the protection of elephants throughout the African continent. The pressure from poaching elephants, which remained moderate until the late 1990s, has accumulated over the past ten years. Thus, on estimates that between 2004 and 2012, approximately 10,000 to 16,000 elephants were killed, in and around Minkébé National Park, the largest park in the country.
To combat poaching in Gabon, 60 rangers were trained at the Mokeko military training facility on patrolling, tracking, fast aid, military tactics, self-defense, firing range as well as mission planning. Through training of Gabon Park Rangers, the project strengthened the Gabon Park Rangers capacity to combat poaching and illegal trade in ivory and thus reduced poaching of elephants as well as improved protection of Gabon forest elephants.
The Park Rangers gained confidence to confront and arrest the heavily armed poachers who illegally cross the Gabonese borders and poach elephants in the heart of the national parks. Today, they are able to manage emergency situations together, such as gunshot wounds. The training in military techniques against poaching has been essential for the security of national parks and the protection of forest elephants in Gabon.