MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) _ The violence and corruption that have taken a huge human toll in Somalia have also victimized the elephants, leopards and other animals that once roamed the countryside in abundance.

Even before central authority evaporated, the government condoned the wholesale slaughter of wildlife in its quest for easy cash. Now that anarchy, famine and war prevail, animals are used not only for money, but food.

The elephant is a potent metaphor for the ravaging of Somalia's wildlife.

Large herds once ranged the countryside, but not a single elephant is to be found in Somalia today.

Elephants fell to ivory hunters during under former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre, whose presidential offices in Mogadishu were decorated with dozens of large tusks even after the international community banned ivory trade.

After Siad Barre fell in January 1991 and the nation was plunged into anarchy and famine, poachers turned on other game.

Leopard skins are hawked in Mogadishu streets and markets. Peddlers offer foreigners live dik-diks, antelopes the size of a small dog, or wild falcons that can be trained for hunting.

In the absence of a government, there no wildlife department keeping track of the losses.