Sunday, 6 May 2012

Huge concern as helicopter used to kill elephants in Garamba National Park

Democratic Republic of Congo elephants butchered from a helicopterCourtesy of African Parks
April 2012. In an extremely worrying developement, it is now thought that a large helicopter was used in the poaching of 22 elephants in DRC's Garamba National Park. 
The poachers, who are believed to have numbered at least 10 individuals, were able to access and leave the park without trace. As a result it is strongly suspected that the attack took place by helicopter. A Russian-made troop carrying helicopter (registration AF-605) was photographed flying low over the park and enquiries with local military indicate this was an unauthorised aircraft. 
Genitalia removedPark management was alerted to the poaching incident when one of five collared elephants, which are monitored daily by satellite, was observed to have remained stationery for 24 hours. A ground patrol sent to investigate discovered six dead elephants, including two babies, grouped together in the southern section of the park. Unusually, the genitalia of the adult male elephants had been removed along with the tusks.
Aerial patrols discovered more carcasses
Over the following three days intensive aerial surveillance was undertaken, during which time 1,415km was flown over the park to ascertain if further poaching had taken place. During these patrol flights another two groups of carcasses involving 13 elephants were located. Ground patrols involving more than 70 rangers subsequently located another three carcasses, bringing the total number of elephants killed to 22 - eighteen adults and four calves. All 22 elephants are believed to have been killed within a day or two of one another.

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