Department Of Interior
|Office of the Secretary||
Contact: Hugh Vickery
|For Immediate Release: July 12, 2004||
Norton Announces Emergency Grants to Stop
Elephant and Rhino Slaughter in Africa
(WASHINGTON) -- Interior Secretary Gale Norton today announced $140,000 in emergency grants to stop the illegal slaughter of elephants and rhinoceros in Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo along the country's border with Sudan.
The Department's U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service is awarding the grants to the non-profit International
Rhino Foundation, which is leading the effort to stop poaching by Sudanese
poachers, known as "the horsemen," who kill the elephants
and rhinos to acquire ivory and horns for sale on the black market.
"The Sudanese horseman
have killed almost 1,000 elephants in the past year and are on the verge
of eliminating the last wild population of northern white rhinos,"
Norton said. "The emergency grants will help train and equip park
rangers and allow aerial surveillance by anti-poaching teams."
Garamba rangers have been
overwhelmed by the heavily armed poachers, and two rangers have been
killed while defending the park.
"These poachers are
unscrupulous and violent, motivated by greed," Norton said. "They
have systematically destroyed wildlife populations throughout the Central
African savannas and now they are focusing on what's left in the Garamba
In April, park rangers sighted
a poacher on horseback, six armed men on foot and approximately 25 donkeys
with heavy packs. In their wake, the rangers found 12 freshly-dead elephants
and two rhinos with only ivory tusks, and horns removed.
"If something isn't
done immediately, the Northern White rhino will probably be lost forever."
said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Steve Williams. "We
need to give the Garamba rangers the help they need to protect these
The grants are being issued
through the Service's "Wildlife Without Borders" program that
administers funds appropriated by Congress for conservation of wild
animals and their natural habitats. A grant of $84,900 is being awarded
under the African Elephant Conservation Fund; a second grant in the
amount of $55,400 is being awarded from the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation
Fund. These grants cannot be used to purchase firearms.
The Service expects international
conservation organizations and private donors to contribute as much
as $150,000 in additional support. The International Rhino Foundation
is working in partnership with other organizations such as Conservation
International, the International Elephant Foundation, Save the Rhino
International, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Frankfurt Zoological
Society, the World Wildlife Fund, the Zoological Society of London,
the World Bank and the United Nations Foundation-UNESCO.
In 1980, Garamba National
Park was established by the United Nations as a "World Heritage
Site." In 1996, it was listed as a "World Heritage Site in
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