Poachers Kill 87 Elephants; Remove Their Tusks In Protected Sanctuary

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"The scale of elephant poaching is by far the largest I've seen or read about anywhere in Africa to date."

 

Home to the largest elephant population in the world turned bloody, after the carcasses of almost 90 elephants were found in a protected sanctuary in Botswana.

Poachers killed 87 elephants and removed them of their tusks, aerial view of the sanctuary showed.

Conservation non-profit, Elephants Without Borders, said they discovered “the alarming rate while flying the Botswana government aerial [elephant] census."

"I'm shocked, I'm completely astounded," Mike Chase of Elephants Without Borders told the BBC. "The scale of elephant poaching is by far the largest I've seen or read about anywhere in Africa to date."

According to a report written by Chase, Elephant Poaching Incident Report Reference, many of the elephants were killed over the span of weeks, some recently. Three rhinos were also reportedly killed and poached in the last three months.

“All carcasses [were] presumed to be poached, because all of them had their skulls chopped to remove their tusks," wrote Chase in the report. "Poachers tried to hide their crimes by concealing the mounds of rotting flesh with drying bushes."

"The varying classification and age of carcasses is indicative of a poaching frenzy which has been ongoing in the same area for a long time," the report said.

Botswana is home to 37 percent of Africa’s endangered elephant population, which has declined by almost 144,000 elephants from 2007 to 2014 in the continent.

While 84 percent of the elephants are found in protected areas, it’s not proven to be a safe haven for the animal, like the 87 that were brutally massacred over a course of few weeks.

The carcasses of the elephants were found near the Okavango Delta wildlife sanctuary.

Poachers have cause significant damage to the population of endangered species in Africa. The situation, particularly in Botswana, worsened after President Mokgweetsi Masisi took office.

One month after swearing into presidency, Masisi retracted the shoot-to-kill policy against poachers, disarming the country’s anti-poaching unit in May.

According to BBC, a “senior official in the president's office, Carter Morupisi, told journalists in Botswana at the time that the 'government has decided to withdraw military weapons and equipment from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks', but he did not explain why."

Before the disarming, it was rare a poaching on such a large scale would take place.

"The poachers are now turning their guns to Botswana. We have the world's largest elephant population and its open season for poachers," Chase told the BBC.

 

Thumbnail/ Banner Credits: REUTERS/Baz Ratner

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