Improving Protection for Nigeria’s Largest Elephant Population in Yankari Game Reserve
Yankari Game Reserve contains the largest surviving elephant population in Nigeria, and one of the largest remaining in West Africa. Estimated at about 350 individuals, this population is perhaps the only viable population remaining in Nigeria. Yankari also supports important populations of lion, buffalo, hippo, roan, and hartebeest. Managed as a national park from 1991 to 2006, Yankari is currently operated by the Bauchi State Government as a game reserve. Since 2006, management of the reserve outside the main tourist camp has been neglected and under-funded. As a result, levels of poaching increased substantially and there was a resurgence of the illegal ivory trade.
With technical support from Dr. Rich Bergl of the North Carolina Zoo, a CyberTracker-based monitoring system was established in July 2009. Together with the provision of equipment and payment of camping allowances for rangers on overnight patrol, this system has increased both the frequency and coverage of anti-poaching patrols, and a number of arrests have been made as a result. The CyberTracker system has allowed close monitoring of the frequency, duration, and extent of ranger patrols. As a result, it has been possible to clearly see when and where patrols are conducted. The CyberTracker system has documented an improvement in patrolling, but it has also highlighted a number of key areas within the reserve that have been neglected by rangers. More work is also needed to engage with the rangers based at a number of ranger posts on the edge of the reserve.