Nearly 90 elephants have been found dead in Botswana– the last safe place for the endangered animals– in the wake of the president’s decision in May to disarm its anti-poaching unit.
A conservation group Elephants Without Borders survey found that 87 elephants were killed this year in the country, a staggering increase from just nine killings in 2014, FOX NEWS reports.
The escalation of poaching in Botswana could be attributed to Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s decision to disarm members of the anti-poaching unit. The move was criticized by conservationists who warned that this will only encourage poachers.
“It came as a complete shock that we were discovering elephants that were poached deep within Botswana, within some world-renowned tourist concessions, It was completely unexpected.” ~ Mike Chase Elephants Without Borders
Elephants Without Borders was conducting aerial surveys for the Botswana government when observers began noticing carcasses around the Okavango Delta, a UNESCO World Heritage region far from the Namibian and Zimbabwean borders where poaching incidents have occurred more commonly in the country. The organization conducts an elephant census for the government every four years. The most recent census, in 2014, found nine recently killed elephants. This year’s survey, which is only halfway complete, has already found 87.
Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks today issued a statement saying the Elephants Without Borders claims are “false and misleading.” The statement says only 53 were counted and that many had died from natural causes.
Chase stands by his numbers. “I am an objective scientist, with no political agenda. I am sad that our government has responded in this way.” He says there’s a GPS location for each of the 87 carcasses and that there are multiple witnesses who saw each one. Every flight has four people, including one government employee, and voice recordings from the flights will bear out these findings, Chase says. National Geographic
Elephants Without Borders is a non-profit, tax-exempt, registered organization in the Republic of Botswana. Registered in the Deeds Office of Botswana, as the Somarela Trust under number MA 18/2004. Under number 91451 of the Business Names Act, the Trust operates as Elephants Without Borders.
Poaching is destroying animal species across the globe, Today, due to habitat loss caused by deforestation, and hunting by human poachers, the Bengal tiger is considered to be an endangered species. Despite being the most common of all the tiger species, there are thought to be around 2,000 Bengal tigers left in the wild.
Chris “Badger” Thomas is a Veteran who served our country as an Army Combat Medic.