All about ARM
Ape Rescue Mission (ARM) is an investigative resource for conservation efforts in the Congo Basin providing strategic and technical support to safeguard endangered and protected species. ARM will bring cutting edge image acquisition technology to threatened areas allowing for an immediate response to the onslaught of poaching that is decimating this fragile ecosystem.
The Basin is home to the densest concentration of endangered species such as gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and forest elephants in all of Africa, including 21,000 unique animal species and 10,000 species of plants, and in addition to a staggering population increase of 1.7 million people per year.
At 500 million acres spread across six countries, its dense and thick jungles cover a vast and seemingly impenetrable area, but porous political borders due to years of turmoil, poverty and war allow for unbridled and cruel extraction of its living resources.
This tumultuous combination of conditions has created an opening for poachers and corrupt officials who ruthlessly exploit the forests. The statistics are frightening - 5,000 gorillas are killed every year, and in the last decade, 62% of all forest elephants have been slaughtered.
In March of this year, over a dozen Sudanese poachers slaughtered at least 26 forest elephants – four of whom were baby calves - in Central African Republic’s Dzanga-Ndoki park. During this same time period, 40 more elephants were slaughtered in Niki and Lobeke parks in Cameroon. In 2012, a larger group of Sudanese on horseback laid waste to elephants in Cameroon and are likely responsible for hundreds of their deaths. By the time military forces responded days later, they were long gone.
These poacher-militias are becoming more sophisticated, utilizing night-vision equipment, automatic weapons and traveling in organized convoys. This allows them to move with impunity in and out of protected areas due their preparedness and motivation, outmatching that of the EcoGuards that are deployed in the parks. This added motivation comes from the factor that ivory from bush elephants is preferred by Asian buyers and has risen in price from around $100 per kilogram to a staggering $1,800 per kilogram.
Modern tactics of electronic reconnaissance are desperately needed to ensure the integrity of park borders, but conservation networks at this time are not equipped to carry out or manage this type of monitoring. Ape Rescue Mission has developed a protocol supported by a sophisticated thermal imaging camera system and experienced surveillance personnel. These tools will give park managers the necessary support to secure their borders while focusing on research and conservation, and allow its guardians to regain an upper hand in what has become a battle for the survival of Africa’s jungle ecosystem.