The 2018 Botswana Elephant Census conducted by Elephant Without Borders (EWB) and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) has uncovered a shocking hotspot for ivory in the Okavango Delta, the 1000th UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Principal investigator of the Census Dr Mike Chase revealed their explosive discovery this week in a Poaching Report titled ‘Ivory Tower’. The report suggests that despite the perceived strict anti-poaching strategies by government, there is a major poaching frenzy on elephants happening in the highly protected Okavango Delta.
“Today (August 3, 2018) we counted 48 elephant carcasses, I’ll repeat that - 48 dead elephants. Carcasses of all age categories – five of which were classified as fresh – that is have been killed in the past few days,” reads the report.
The Friday incident brings the total number of poached elephant carcasses seen since the survey began in July to 101. The document further stated that, “All carcasses presumed to be poached, because all of them had their skulls chopped to remove their tusks.
Poachers tried to hide their crimes by concealing the mounds of rotting flesh with drying bushes”.
The area where these carcasses were found are NG 15 and NG18, which are around the Linyanti swamps area. According to the report, Dr Chase believes this area is a major poaching hotspot in Botswana.
“Certainly, we flew over one of Africa’s worst poaching hotspots today.
I can attest to that with data
The varying classification and age of carcasses is indicative of a poaching frenzy which has been ongoing in the same area for a long time.” Last year there were unconfirmed reports of unusual sightings of poached elephants by travellers in the area. A traveller in the area Nic Proust of Bush 24 last year in July posted a report in their website after “finding poached elephants everywhere” in the Linyanti Swamps.
“Have just returned from trekking through some swamplands to find two more peaceful animals with faces chopped off for their tusks... by my calculations we have had close on 50 poached in a small area of about 10km wide along the Linyanti Swamp in just two months, (sic)” reads part of the report.
Interestingly Dr Chase’s Ivory Tower report noted that this elephants hotspots were killed in an area with strong military presence with two airfields and managed by one of the world’s largest eco-tourism travel companies.
The 2018 Botswana Elephant Census is expected to be complete in October, and the results are expected to be published early next year.