News broke last week that 200 elephants had been slaughtered by poachers in Cameroon in six weeks. Just a week later, an investigation has uncovered nearly 500 elephant carcasses in Bouba Ndjida National Park.
The national park, which borders Sudan, allows elephants to roam free. Poaching, officials explained, is more common during the winter dry season, but the scale of the killings this year has been unprecedented.
"As of today we estimate that 480 elephants have been slaughtered in our park," said Mathieu Fometa of the Bouba Ndjida National Park in northern Cameroon, but added that "these figures may be an underestimate because the park covers 220,000 hectares (540,000 acres) and it isn't easy to travel to get accurate information."
The poachers—a heavily armed gang from Sudan and Chad—number in the dozens and have already come into conflict with law enforcement. A group of 50 poachers killed six Chadian soldiers in January before fleeing with a cache of ivory.
So far, officials in Cameroon have not made an effort to escalate security in the park. In the mean time, poaching in the country's national parks continues to increase.