Published: Thu, September 06, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

‘Open season for poachers’: 87 elephant carcasses found in Botswana

‘Open season for poachers’: 87 elephant carcasses found in Botswana

Prior to the recent incident, Botswana had been largely "successful at protecting [its] elephants", according to the Great Elephant Census, an expansive survey released by Elephants Without Borders in 2016.

NINETY elephant carcasses have been discovered in Botswana with their tusks hacked off, a charity said today, in what is believed to be one of Africa's worst mass poaching sprees. Botswana "had a growing elephant population and was probably feeding expansion", said Milliken, but now "anything newly born is being offset by poaching".

The reported increase in elephant poaching in Botswana could reflect a trend in which poachers move into new territories as conditions become more hard in regions where they usually operate.

Five white rhinos were also found poached for their horns in the past three months, as stated in the report.

Mike Chase of Elephants Without Borders told BBC, "I'm shocked, I'm completely astounded".

"Those elephants that weren't killed are moving back to the safety of Botswana, and the poachers have followed them", Chase said. Botswana has the largest population of elephants on the continent, 130,000; a third of the continent's elephant population.

Botswana is home to the world's largest elephant population, but poachers have been finding their way into the country.

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The carcasses were found near the Okavango Delta wildlife sanctuary, a biodiverse global tourist destination of over 22,000 square kilometers.

Shockingly, the mutilated elephants were found near the protected Okavango Delta region, and far away from the borders where poaching has traditionally been more rife.

A senior official in the president's office, Carter Morupisi, said that the "government has made a decision to withdraw military weapons and equipment from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks", but did not explain why.

It said the EWB had counted 53 carcasses during the survey, adding that it had verified that most of these animals had died of "natural causes".

"Botswana has always been at the forefront of conservation and it will require political will", Chase told BBC News.

Chase said in the interview that more needs to be done to stop the killings and he urged the government of Botswana to take immediate action. "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." said Mr Chase.

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