87 dead elephants found after Botswana's anti-poaching unit disarmed

Elephants Without Borders found in an aerial survey that as many as 87 recently-killed pachyderm carcasses with their tusks removed, sure signs of an explosive poaching epidemic. Five white rhinos were also killed over the past few months.

The disturbing scenes were found near to a famous wildlife sanctuary in Botswana, just months after the country's anti-poaching unit was disarmed.

"I'm shocked, I'm completely astounded", Dr. Mike Chase with the group told the BBC.

"The poachers are now turning their guns to Botswana", said Chase. This resulted in Botswana nurturing the largest elephant population within its boarders at 130,000 elephants.

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

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

Botswana is home to the world's largest elephant populations and has been praised for its protection of elephants in the past.

The latest poaching was close to the protected Okavango Delta wildlife sanctuary which attracts tourists from around the world.

The census found roughly 350,000 elephants in 18 African countries.

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.

Conservationists fear the final figure of poached elephants for the year will only increase and are concerned the problem is being ignored as it is bad for the country's reputation.

Carcasses are generally considered "fresh" when an animal is lost within the last three months.

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". It's a move that goes against Botswana's former policy against poachers, which had garnered praise from conservationists for its "shoot to kill" stance.

'Our new president must uphold Botswana's legacy and tackle this problem quickly.

In a Facebook post Monday, Elephants Without Borders wrote that researchers observed the recent "alarming rate" of poaching while conducting an aerial wildlife survey supported by the Botswana government. "Tourism is vitally important for our economy, jobs, as well as our worldwide reputation which is at stake here as being a safe stronghold for elephants".



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