Horrific news coming out of Chad, as we learn that 86 elephants, 33 of which were pregnant females, have been slaughtered by poachers on horseback.
The elephants were killed close to the Chad border with Cameroon and their ivory hacked out. It is the worst killing spree of elephants since early 2012 when poachers from Chad and Sudan killed as many as many as 650 elephants in a matter of weeks in Cameroon’s Bouba Ndjida National Park.
“This is completely shocking,” said Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare in France and Francophone Africa.
“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.”
Al Jazeera, which reports 89, not 86, were killed, reports on the role the Asian ivory trade plays in the killings:
"At its root, though, it is ending demand for ivory in countries like Thailand and China which will ensure the survival of Central Africa's elephants."
The price of ivory has passed $2,000 per kilogramme on the Asian black market, according to several non-government organisations.
The Guardian calls it is a devastating blow to one of the last remaining elephant populations in Central Africa:
Groups of elephants follow traditional migration routes during the dry season from Central African Republic, through Chad to Cameroon. Thirty years ago there were estimates of 150,000 animals across the region, but today that figure could be as low as 2,000.
NBC News filed the following report:
There's a sense of helplessness that can come when one hears this sort of news. How do we stop this? And more importantly, how do we stop it before it is too late and these great species are driven to extinction?
There are, sadly, no easy answers. Supporting groups like IFAW, Save the Elephants and WWF are a good place to start. Besides that, helping to spread awareness about the gruesome origins of ivory and not participating in the market that supports it is also helpful.