Published: Thu, September 06, 2018
Science | By Cecil Little

87 elephants found dead in Botswana sanctuary, poaching to blame

87 elephants found dead in Botswana sanctuary, poaching to blame

Nearly 90 elephants have been found slaughtered in Botswana as part of a survey being conducted by the group Elephants Without Borders.

Botswana's anti-poaching unit underwent budget cuts in May, shortly after newly elected President Mokgweetsi Masisi was sworn in.

About it reports BBC News with reference to animal welfare activists from the organization "Elephants without borders", who carried out aerial photography of the area.

Elephants Without Borders, which is conducting an aerial survey, said the scale of poaching deaths is the largest seen in Africa.

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The Great Elephant Census conducted in 2015 found that a third of African elephants have been lost in the last decade. The current deaths are said to have happened weeks back and further in the country close to the protected Okavango Delta wildlife sanctuary.

"The poachers now directed their guns on Botswana". "We have the world's largest elephant population and it's open season for poachers", he told The AP, adding that poachers have targeted old bull elephants that presumably have the heaviest tusks. Conservationists are concerned that the final tally of poached elephants will be much higher.

China in particular has taken steps to combat the ivory trade, but, as the president of Save the Elephants told The New York Times previous year, "There is still a long way to go to end the excessive killing of elephants for ivory". However, the units have since been disarmed.

Botswana previously earned a reputation for having an unforgiving approach to poachers. Three white rhinoceroses were also killed in the same area over the past three months, according to the report.

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Furthermore, this isn't the first time in recent months that Chase warned about the scale of elephant poaching in Botswana.

87 carcasses were recently discovered by the NGO Elephants Without Borders during an aerial survey of the nation, which has always been considered one of the continent's most reliable strongholds against elephant poaching.

The recent developments may affect the remaining elephants negatively unless the Botswana government takes action to preserve its reputation as an elephant sanctuary. "Tourism is vitally important for our economy, jobs, as well as our global reputation which is at stake here as being a safe stronghold for elephants".

Chase said elephants in Zambia and Angola, north of Botswana, "have been poached to the verge of local extinction, and poachers have now turned to Botswana".

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Before European colonization, scientists believe that Africa may have held as many as 20 million elephants; by 1979 only 1.3 million remained.

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