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Worst mass slaughter of elephants ever recorded in Chad

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 18th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Driven by an illicit worldwide desire for genuine ivory, Poachers have slaughtered 86 elephants in a single week in the African nation of Chad. Armed gangs reportedly killed the herds, which included 33 pregnant females, before stealing their valuable tusks.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Elephant numbers have drastically declined to only 300,000 living in the wild. In the 1930s, there were an estimated seven to ten million pachyderms around the world. Demand for ivory, as well as habitat loss from human settlement have been blamed for the precipitous decline.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare says that the bloody killing spree in the central African country was the worst mass slaughter of elephants this year.

"This is completely shocking," Celine Sissler-Bienvenu, IFAW director for France and Francophone Africa, said. "Elephants in central Africa continue to be under siege from unscrupulous poachers. The killing of 86 elephants, including pregnant cows, is evidence of the callous brutality demanded to feed the appetite of the ivory trade."

Wildlife officials said the 86 slaughtered elephants were killed last week close to Chad's southwestern border with Cameroon.

Witnesses say that gangs rode on horseback from Chad and Sudan to Cameroon's Bouba Ndjida National Park before shooting the animals, around half of the huge park's population. It is believed the animals were targeted by criminals who shot groups of the mammals en masse before stealing their tusks.

IFAW bosses said in a statement that they believed the killings had remained unreported for several days amid an on-going disagreement between local people and the government about the presence of wild elephants in the area.

The organization's elephant program director Jason Bell warned the incident showed some regions of Africa now faced losing their entire elephant population.

"The poaching of elephants for their ivory is an issue of global significance, and needs a global response if we are to turn the killing fields of Central Africa into safe havens for elephants.," Bell said in the statement.

"This cannot happen in a vacuum . Ivory consuming nations - notably China - have to make a concerted effort to reduce the demand for ivory in their own backyards. Otherwise, the battle to save elephants will be lost."

Last week's massacre in Chad comes a year after poachers slaughtered around 630 elephants in neighboring Cameroon.

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