Botswana has the world’s largest elephant population, but poachers have been breaching its border.
The scientist carrying out the extensive wildlife survey said many of the 87 dead elephants were killed for their tusks just weeks ago and that five white rhinos have been poached in three months.
Dr Mike Chase from Elephants Without Borders said, “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.”
He said, “When I compare this to figures and data from the Great Elephant Census, which I conducted in 2015, we are recording double the number of freshly poached elephants than anywhere else in Africa.”
“That census estimated a third of Africa’s elephants had been killed in the last decade and 60% of Tanzania’s elephants had been lost in five years.”
Africa’s Botswana has had a reputation for an unforgiving approach to poachers and had largely escaped the elephant losses seen elsewhere.
Despite a lack of fences on the international border, data from tracking collars showed elephants retreating from Angola, Namibia and Zambia and deciding to stay within the boundaries of Botswana where it was thought to be safe.
Incidents of poaching in the country were rare because of armed and well-managed anti-poaching units.
Botswana has been described as their last sanctuary in Africa with 130,000 elephants as poaching for ivory continues to wipe out herds across the rest of the continent.
But these latest killings have been found deep into Botswana which is closed to the protected Okavango Delta wildlife sanctuary, that attracts tourists from around the world.