A total of 86 elephants — including 33 pregnant females and 15 young — were killed in Chad last week. The 50 or so Arabic-speaking poachers shot the animals with machine guns while riding on horses, then hacked out their tusks and left the animals to die.
These are probably the same group of poachers who killed 300 elephants in February of last year, Bas Huijbregts, head of WWF’s campaign against illegal wildlife trade in the region said to the AFP.
Cameroon has deployed military helicopters and troops to its national parks to protect the animals, Reuters’s reports.
“The killing of 86 elephants, including pregnant cows, is evidence of the callous brutality demanded to feed the appetite of the ivory trade,” Celine Sissler-Bienvenu, head of IFAW in France and Francophone Africa, said in a statement.
The booming ivory trade — mostly in jewelry and ornamental items — is driving an increase in elephant poaching. According to NBC News:
From about 11,500 elephants illegally killed in 2010 in areas observed by the Monitoring Illegal Killing of Elephants programme, estimates for 2011 and 2012 rose to around 17,000.
The money from this illegal ivory trade is possibly being used to fund armed groups, according to the WWF.
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