GABORONE. – At least 87 dead elephants have been found near a sanctuary in Botswana, according to a report.
According to BBC, conservation group Elephants Without Borders discovered the elephants while carrying out an extensive aerial survey on wildlife close to the Okavango Delta wildlife sanctuary.
The scientist carrying out the survey said many of the elephants were killed for their tusks just weeks ago and that five white rhino have been poached in three months, according to the report.
The government has disarmed the Department of Wildlife and National Parks from military weapons and equipment previously used in the fight against poaching, according to Tourism Update.
The disarming of the anti-poaching unit has reportedly led to a rise in poaching in Botswana, which was home to 130 000 elephants.
The BBC has quoted Mike Chase of Elephants Without Borders as saying: “I’m shocked. I’m completely astounded. The scale of elephant poaching is by far the largest I’ve seen or read about anywhere in Africa to date.”
“When I compare this to figures and data from the Great Elephant Census, which I conducted in 2015, we are recording double the number of fresh poached elephants than anywhere else in Africa,” Chase said.
The Great Elephant Census conducted in 2015 found that a third of African elephants have been lost in the last decade.
“The poachers are now turning their guns to Botswana. We have the world’s largest elephant population and it’s open season for poachers,” Chase added.
The number of elephants in Africa has decreased significantly in recent years.
According to the Great Elephant Census, the number of elephants decreased by 30 percent between 2007 and 2014, or about 144,000 animals.
In total, 352,271 elephants were counted in 18 countries by the census takers.
On a year-by-year basis, the number of elephants decreased by eight percent, mostly because of poaching.
The vast majority of elephants, 84 percent, was spotted in protected elephant sanctuaries. – BBC/HR/News Agencies