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Ivory Coast relocates elephants to save dwindling population

Experts estimate only 300 remain, living in small groups or isolation and vulnerable to poachers seeking their tusks for ivory.
Credit: AP
A wild elephant is prepared to be transported as part of operations carried out by authorities to catch and relocate wild elephants who have upset farming communities, in Guitry, Ivory Coast Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020. An elephant who was named Hamed by the residents in the southern region of Ivory Coast has been captured and moved to the zoo in Abidjan as he awaits a transfer to an appropriate park, in an effort to save the dwindling population. (AP Photo)

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast — An elephant named Hamed by residents in a southern region of Ivory Coast has been captured and relocated to the zoo in Abidjan as he awaits transfer to a park where authorities hope he will have non-human company instead.

Authorities are catching and relocating wild elephants that have disrupted farming communities, in a bid to save the animals' dwindling population in the West African nation.

Hamed had made his way from Azagny National Park to the region of Guitry, where he lived for some years until he started to destroy farmers' land and scare residents.

“At the beginning, like any elephant, we thought that he was the emblem of Ivory Coast and should be honored,” said resident Eric Serge. “But a moment came and he began to be very aggressive, and the whole population began to worry about his presence.”

Col. Jerome Ake, the country's deputy director general of forests and wildlife, said the elephant will go “where there will be no more nuisance.”

Guitry’s leader, Patrice Loua, called the operation encouraging.

Ivory Coast once was home to more than 1,100 elephants in various habitats. Now, experts estimate only 300 remain, living in small groups or isolation and vulnerable to poachers seeking their tusks for ivory.

The country is considering adopting a law to preserve the animals' population.

Credit: AP
A wild elephant is prepared to be transported as part of operations carried out by authorities to catch and relocate wild elephants who have upset farming communities, in Guitry, Ivory Coast Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020. An elephant who was named Hamed by the residents in the southern region of Ivory Coast has been captured and moved to the zoo in Abidjan as he awaits a transfer to an appropriate park, in an effort to save the dwindling population. (AP Photo)

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