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03/20/2013

Poachers massacre 86 elephants, including 33 pregnant ones, in Chad

Elephant
 A herd of elephants walk backdropped by Mt. Kilimanjaro in Amboseli game park in Kenya in 2006.(AP)

Armed ivory poachers slaughtered at least 86 elephants, including 33 pregnant ones and 15 calves, in Chad in the past week.

According to reports out of the central African country, some 50 Arabic-speaking poachers shot the elephants with machine guns while riding horses, hacked out the tusks and left the animals to die.

The animals were killed near Fianga, a town close to the border between Chad and Cameroon, according to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). Fianga is near a cross-border national park area where many pachyderms spend the dry season before the rains start in April.

“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.

She said it would take two decades for the population to recover.

About 30 years ago, there were 150,000 animals across the region; today that figure could be as low as 2,000, wildlife officials estimate.

Chad-based NGO SOS Elephants reported late last year that hundreds of elephants had moved into Chad to escape poaching in Bouba N'Djida park in Cameroon, where 650 elephants were killed within days in February 2012.

Cameroon has since deployed military helicopters and troops to its national parks to protect elephants, Reuters reported last year.

Poachers target elephants for their ivory which is smuggled to Chinese markets through Sudanese and Nigerian ports.

Raveena Aulakh is the Toronto Star's environment reporter. She is intrigued by climate change and its impact, now and long-term. Follow her on Twitter @raveenaaulakh

Comments

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This is awful and heartbreaking. These brazen acts are out of control. I know that the penalties on poachers are tough, but what are they like for dealers, traders, sellers, and buyers of ivory, or any of the various other animal goods sold around the world?

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