Bodies of 87 elephants found in Botswana after being poached for tusks 3 years ago

Bodies of 87 elephants found in Botswana after being poached for tusks

It's the largest discovery of poaching ever made in Africa

Just months after Botswana's anti-poaching unit was disbanded a discovery of the bodies of 87 elephants has been made near a wildlife sanctuary in Botswana.

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An aerial survey was conducted by conservationists Elephants Without Borders over an area near the protected Okavango Delta, and they have since confirmed it is the largest discovery of poaching seen in Africa to date.

Botswana has the world's largest elephant population at around 130,000, but the recent disarmament of their strict anti-poaching unit has led to a rise in poachers killing and dismembering the animals for their tusks.

Five white rhinos were also found to have been killed over the last few months.

"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," said Dr Mike Chase from Elephants Without Borders.

The armed anti-poaching units, along with the country's traditionally unforgiving stance against the hunting of the animals, were almost immediately disbanded after President Mokgweetsi Masisi was sworn into power in April. No explanation as to why has yet been given.

A census estimated a third of Africa's elephants had been killed in the last decade.

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Dr Chase added: ‘Our new president must uphold Botswana’s legacy and tackle this problem quickly. Tourism is vitally important for our economy, jobs, as well as our international reputation, which is at stake here as being a safe stronghold for elephants."

As it stands, the aerial survey is only halfway complete and conservationists are concerned that the total number of poached elephants found could be far higher.