Covering 3,000 km2 of largely intact forest, Oban is an important site for forest elephant conservation in Nigeria. Yet the site has been neglected and poorly protected for many years, leaving hunting largely uncontrolled. Surveys in the late 1990s estimated a population of 74 elephants for the entire Park. It is estimated that 3-4 elephants are killed each year. In addition to poaching, habitat loss from farming and logging is an increasing threat (Wildlife Conservation Society, 2017).
To mitigate the threats currently facing elephants in Oban Division of Cross River National Park (CRNP), including help improve park-community relations, the Federal Ministry of the Environment in collaboration with the Wildlife Conservation Society and the African Elephant Fund is currently implementing a project to improve law enforcement and reduce elephant poaching in the Oban Division of CRNP through Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART). This project further seeks to improve the protection of elephants in Oban by increasing the number, coverage, and effectiveness of anti-poaching patrols.
Two-day SMART refresher training for rangers of Cross River National Park has been completed. Consequently, rangers of Oban Division have learnt and are now well equipped with knowledge on SMART technology. SMART has become an efficient technology for law enforcement monitoring and improving ranger supervision at CRNP.
So far, 18 long-distance foot patrols have been completed in Nigeria by Oban Division rangers and 13 offenders arrested including 17 hunters. 33 arrests have been made and zero elephant carcasses recorded to date. Additionally, the project has created awareness among rangers and local communities living in Oban Division on the importance of elephant conservation.