Our Friend of the Month is Lt-Col Elvire-Joëlle Mailly Zouzou, who is Côte d’Ivoire’s Deputy Director-General of Forests and Fauna.
Did you grow up in the city or countryside? Did you have a lot of contact with nature as a child?
I grew up in the city, but our home was surrounded by forest. I spent all my moments of relaxation in this forest and we camped there regularly. So none of my relatives were surprised by my career path.
When did you develop a passion for nature conservation?
My passion grew throughout my childhood in "my forest" behind our home. My father often took me to the Zoo at Bouaké where I could watch the animals. My education only confirmed the value of nature to humanity.
Can you give us a rough estimate of the number of elephants that survive in Côte d’Ivoire?
First of all, I would prefer you said "live” rather than “survive", because even though the number has decreased, Côte d'Ivoire is working, through the Ministry of Water and Forests, to protect its elephants. The population is estimated at just over 1000.
What is the biggest threat to elephants in Ivory Coast? Poaching or Loss of habitat?
Both are a threat, but habitat loss is a bigger issue.
Are you optimistic that future generations in Côte d'Ivoire will be able to see wild elephants?
Certainly, I can say, the public is increasingly aware of the need to preserve our wildlife heritage and our elephant populations. The Government is working hard for the conservation of our resources. We will leave viable populations of wild elephants to future generations.