Almost 100 Elephants Killed For Ivory In Botswana

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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. "The scale of elephant poaching is by far the largest I've seen or read about anywhere in Africa to date", Dr Mike Chase from Elephants Without Borders, told the BBC. Five white rhinos were also killed over the past few months.

The Botswana poaching occurred just months after former president Ian Khama, deeply passionate about protecting wildlife, stepped down, handing power to his chosen successor Mokgweetsi Masisi.

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

The conservation ecologist said he had recorded double the number of poached elephants than anywhere else in Africa when compared to figures from the 2015 Great Elephant Census.

But, that trend could be changing, as Chase told the BBC "poachers are now turning their guns to Botswana". This resulted in Botswana nurturing the largest elephant population within its boarders at 130,000 elephants.

Botswana has the world's largest elephant population, but poachers have been breaching its border.

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

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According to tracking collar data gathered by scientists, elephants tend to stay within Botswana's boarders for its assumed safety and despite not having fences along the country's boarders.

It is thought that poaching in neighbouring counties may have pushed the elephants across the border into Botswana, where those pursuing ivory appear to have followed.

The units have focussed much of their effort on the border regions, which have historically been more vulnerable.

An aerial survey located 87 elephants, many with their tusks removed, that were killed within the past three months.

The recent developments may affect the remaining elephants negatively unless the Botswana government takes action to preserve its reputation as an elephant sanctuary.

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

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