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17.01.2024 Climate REVEALED: Elephant Killed by Vigilantes in Viral Video Was ‘Sentenced’ by Borno LGA Chairman

Published 17th Jan, 2024

By Joseph Adeiye

On December 18, Musa Gwary, the founder of Untold Stories Media, posted two videos showing the execution of an African bush elephant.

The elephant was condemned to death by the local government chairman of Kala/Balge Local Government Area (LGA) in Borno, according to Gwary.

“I am writing to bring your attention to a critical issue that demands immediate action – the alarming rate of elephant killings in Kala Barge Local Government,” Gwary wrote in his December post, which has been viewed over 681,000 times.

“The majestic elephants, crucial to our ecosystem, are facing a dire threat that requires our collective efforts to address. Let us stand together in the defence of these gentle giants, protecting them from further harm.”

READ ALSO: Pendjari! Tracking $1.7m Stray Elephant, Nigerian Journalist Becomes Prisoner in Benin Republic

FIJ sought to find out where the video came from and why the elephant was condemned to death.

Gwary told FIJ that the killing of elephants in Kala/Balge LGA was the result of a clash of interests between elephants and human beings living in their reclaimed savannah land.

He also said that the killing of the elephant in the widely circulated video came from a WhatsApp group of vigilantes who kill wildlife and terrorists alike.

“The video was sent to me by a member of the civilian JTF (Joint Task Force). It was shared on their WhatsApp group by one of their members,” Gwary told FIJ on January 10.

“Yes, they (the elephants) started migrating to the region four years ago in search of water and food. They used to migrate from a game reserve in Cameroon; this town is very near the border. They share the same border with Cameroon, and there is a very large game reserve where there are a lot of animals, and they have been migrating to Nigeria through some parts of Kala Balge in search of water and food.”

FIJ confirmed that elephants have been migrating through Kala/Balge since 2019.

READ ALSO: REPORT: Climate Change Has Displaced 21million People Every Year Since 2008

Although Gwary couldn’t immediately tell which game reserve the elephant travelled from, FIJ found one of Cameroon’s protected areas very close to the Nigerian-Borno border is a game reserve: the Waza National Park.

The Waza National Park is located in the far north region of Cameroon and houses many hundred African bush elephants, among other species.

On the map of the northernmost parts of Cameroon and Borno, the border through which these elephants travel can be seen.

FIJ found that the killing of elephants was a more recent activity, but this was not due to a pre-existing cordial relationship between Kala/Balge’s human residents and their uninvited mammoth visitors.

“So, in the past, the people of Kala/Balge were displaced [due to terrorism in Nigeria’s northern states]. When they started to return to their land to farm and settle again, the elephants started coming to their land too,” Gwary told FIJ.

“So, when they come, the elephants already know the exact location (in Kala/Balge) and they think that there are no human settlements in the place. But in the last two years, the Borno State Government has returned people back to the local government area, which is Kala/Balge. According to the residents, the elephants were destroying their crops and their houses.

“The man wearing the kaftan in the video is the LGA chairman, and he’s the one who led the killings of the elephants.”

READ ALSO: RESEARCH: Male Quolls Choose Sex Over Sleep, and They Are Dying in Droves

Kala/Balge residents currently have no better idea to ward off the elephants than to kill them or cause significant harm to the animals. FIJ confirmed that Babagana Umara Zulum, the Governor of Borno, is aware of the plight of the people and elephants in Kala/Balge. The governor was in the local government area to distribute food items and cash to the individuals affected by the migrating elephants this month.

“The government here doesn’t really seem to take such things very seriously. Even the member of the civilian JTF who shared the video of the killing was sharing it as if it were something very great to protect their people; they didn’t know that they were also killing off wildlife,” Gwary said.

“The elephants normally come around during the harmattan season. December, January and February are the times they migrate; this is also the period of harvest on the farm when the crops are ready. That’s normally when they come. I can’t say the exact figure, but we know that the elephants come in herds. A herd is about a hundred elephants at a time.”

A Borno indigene has proposed a traditional solution to chase the elephants away without killing them, but the state government has not prioritised dealing humanely with the animals.

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Published 17th Jan, 2024

By Joseph Adeiye

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