‘Open season for poachers’: 87 elephant carcasses found in Botswana Scores of elephant carcasses have been found near a wildlife sanctuary in Botswana in what conservationists say is the largest case of poaching ever seen in Africa.

Elephants Without Borders is an aerial survey in the area near Okavango Delta and found many of the elephants were killed in the last fortnight and were targeted for their tusks.

Five white rhinos have also been poached in the space of three months. The survey is only half-completed, and more carcasses are expected to be uncovered.

“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,” Dr Mike Chase of Elephants Without Borders the . “The poachers are now turning their guns to Botswana. We have the world’s largest elephant population and it’s open season for poachers.”

Botswana was home to a well-armed anti-poaching unit, which protected its elephants from human attackers with an unwritten ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy towards poachers until it was disarmed in May. Since then, poachers have been crossing the border to target elephants and rhinos.

The government didn’t provide a reason for the disarming decision. In June, some members of Botswana’s parliament presented a motion to end a ban on elephant hunting, citing increased population and human-wildlife conflict as a reason.

Data from elephant tracking collars shows elephants enter Botswana from neighboring Angola, Namibia and Zambia where they were at more risk of being poached. There are an estimated 130,000 elephants in Botswana.

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