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Nearly 100 elephants killed for ivory in Botswana

By AFP 4 September 2018
Caption
File Photo: A pile of elephant tusks is set ablaze by Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki at Tsavo West National Park in Kenya, 20 July 2011. Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the Lusaka Agreement Task Force (LATF), a regional anti-poaching body, have burned 4.6 tonnes of contraband ivory to demonstrate its commitment to combat poaching and the illicit ivory trade in the region. The ivory burned was found to have originated from Malawi and Zambia and seized in Singapore in 2002. The burning of ivory†was carried out as a part of the first-ever African Elephant Law Enforcement Day celebrations with the theme 'Fostering cooperation to combat elephant poaching and ivory trafficking in Africa'. This is the third time for such an exercise to be held in Africa, after Kenya?s in 1989 and Zambia in 1992. The volume of illicit ivory trade rose ninefold in the past five years, from 620 kilogrammes in 2005 to 5.7 tonnes in 2010, according to LATF. KWS has this year alone seized some three tonnes of ivory in transit. EPA/DAI KUROKAWA

Ninety elephant carcasses have been discovered in Botswana with their tusks hacked off, a charity said Tuesday, in what is believed to be one of Africa's worst mass poaching sprees.

Most of the animals killed were large bulls carrying heavy tusks, Elephants Without Borders said.

The grim discovery was made over several weeks during an aerial survey by Elephants Without Borders and Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks.

“We started flying the survey on July 10, and we have counted 90 elephant carcasses since the survey commenced,” Mike Chase, the charity director, told AFP.

“Each day we are counting dead elephants,” he added.

The animals were shot with heavy calibre rifles at watering spots near a popular wildlife sanctuary in the Okavango Delta.

“The scale of elephant poaching is by far the largest I have seen or read about in Africa to date,” Chase said.

The poaching coincided with the disarming earlier this year of Botswana’s rangers, according to Chase.

The country has the largest elephant population in Africa at over 135,000.

The number of African elephants has fallen by around 111,000 to 415,000 in the past decade, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The killing continues at a dizzying pace of about 30,000 elephants a year to meet demand for ivory in Asia, where tusks sell for around $1,000 (864 euros) a kilo (2.2 pounds).

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”.

Botswana Tourism Minister Tshekedi Khama confirmed to AFP that dozens of elephants had been poached, but gave no further details.

The government was not immediately available to comment on rangers being apparently disarmed earlier this year.

Botswana previously had a zero-tolerance approach to poaching, with a “shoot-to-kill” policy against poachers.

Poachers have also targeted rhino, said Chase, after six white rhino carcasses were found in recent months. DM

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