At least 87 dead elephants found in Botswana

Poaching Almost 90 elephants dead in ‘biggest ever’ slaughter in Africa

Poaching Almost 90 elephants dead in ‘biggest ever’ slaughter in Africa

The sanctuary, covering nearly 8,500 square miles (22,000 square kilometers), is a major tourism draw. The oasis is home to more than 2,000 species of animals and plant life, including elephants, rhinoceroses and the endangered African Wild Dog. It is described as Africa's last eden.

Close to 90 elephants were found dead near a wildlife sanctuary in Botswana, as conservationists warned of what could be the largest-scale wave of poaching deaths in Africa thus far.

"I'm shocked, I'm completely astounded".

In total, 352,271 elephants in were counted in 18 countries by the census takers. Five white rhinos have been poached in three months.

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

On a year by year basis, the number of elephants decreased by eight percent, mostly because of poaching.

"Until now Botswana's elephant herds have largely been left in peace, but clearly Botswana is now in the cross-hairs", said Jason Bell, IFAW's vice president for conservation.

Security in Botswana has often been known to quickly open fire on poaching suspects, including Namibians and Zimbabweans who were killed after illegally crossing the border.

Elephants Without Borders have said the scale of deaths is the largest seen in Africa.

Botswana has an estimated 130 000 elephants, the most of any country in Africa.

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In a 2013 documentary series created by British actor and filmmaker Tom Hardy, Chase described the area's elephants as "political refugees".

All of them were assumed to have been poached for their tusks.

In 2013, the government of Botswana introduced a controversial "shoot-to-kill" policy on poachers.

"It's a culture. We have to kill the supply to starve the culture", Khama said.

Botswana has battled wildlife crises in the past, one of the major disaster is losing its last black rhino to poachers.

In the past, Botswana has kept armed anti-poaching units, so instances of poaching were relatively rare.

Tanzania's Selous region, for example, was heavily hit by elephant poachers but recent data indicates that the killing has slowed. The country's tourism industry may also be affected since it is centered around its wildlife park.

According to that census, a third of the continent's elephants had been killed in the last decade. "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", he said.

This Is Africa, a local English-language magazine, tweeted at Masisi demanding the government take action. "Why?" the tweet said.

The elephants were discovered by Elephants Without Borders, a conservation nonprofit.

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