Abidjan, Sep 17 (IANS) Several elephants have been killed by armed poachers in the Mount Peko reserve in western Cote d'Ivoire, according to local residents.
Villagers of Bagohouo told Xinhua Monday that they were "dumbfounded" to see several elephants killed by gunshots and their tusks removed.
"In the last few days, the poachers have increased night attacks against the elephants. We have already informed the forestry authorities about the presence of armed individuals in the reserve," said Gaspart Guei, a local resident.
"Out of a population of many elephants a few years ago, we have (now) just three elephants," Benoit Yrou, another villager, said.
The Mount Peko national reserve of 34,000 hectares constitutes one of the largest national parks in Cote d'Ivoire.
The massacre of elephants comes at a time when Cote d'Ivoire's international football star, Yaya Toure, has vowed to "do everything possible" to fight poaching of elephants in Africa.
The Manchester City player said poaching is one of the serious threats to security, political stability, the economy, cultural heritage and proper management of natural resources of a number of countries.
In 2011 alone, the UN estimated that over 17,000 elephants were killed in protected zones.
In Cote d'Ivoire, where the number of elephants fell dramatically, there are only 800 elephants remaining across the country.
Experts have warned of the serious threat to elephants in Cote d'Ivoire, calling for more efforts to protect the endangered animal species.