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African Elephants Slaughtered in Herds Near Chad Wildlife Park

Brian Handwerk
for National Geographic News
August 30, 2006

A slaughtered elephant is a gruesome sight.

Poachers hack off the animal's face to remove its ivory tusks—which are all the illegal hunters value—and leave the massive carcass where it lies.

Herds of such kills are piling up on the borders of one of the elephants' last central African strongholds, Chad's Zakouma National Park, according to a disturbing new report.

(See photos and animated stills of the elephant slaughter.)

Mike Fay, a Wildlife Conservation Society biologist on a National Geographic Society-funded expedition, recently spotted about a hundred dead elephants on an aerial survey just outside the park's borders (National Geographic News is part of the National Geographic Society).

"Even for someone who's been around for 20 years watching elephants be killed in that area, that's a lot of elephants," Fay said of the massacre, which he observed in early August, while he was also on assignment for National Geographic magazine.

All of the elephants found had been killed since May, he adds.

"And we certainly didn't find them all. It was just a sample survey that we did outside the park."

Fay also spotted camps of presumed poachers near elephant massacre sites. The armed horsemen fired automatic weapons at his small aircraft in an apparent attempt to drive Fay from the scene and cover their crimes.

But Fay's team, working with the Chadian government and the European Union, has succeeded in spotlighting a major poaching problem that they warn must be addressed immediately.

Stronghold Under Siege

Zakouma National Park is an elephant oasis in southeastern Chad (map of Chad).

Continued on Next Page >>


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