Tuesday, 27 October 2015

South African conservationist shock over surge in Kruger elephant poaching

The country's national parks authority reveals 19 elephants have been killed this year – 12 in the past two months – after years of focus on protecting more regularly targeted rhinos from poachers

By Aislinn Laing, Johannesburg

5:11PM BST 22 Oct 2015

South African wildlife officials have expressed shock over the poaching of 19 elephants in the country’s flagship Kruger National Park in the first mass poaching incident for decades that reveals the growing demand for illegal ivory.

The elephants were killed in the north of the park close to the borders withZimbabwe and Mozambique. Two died at the start of the year, three died in July, two died in August and 12 died in September and October.

Until now, efforts have been focused on keeping South Africa's vulnerable rhino population safe from poachers: until two elephants were killed last year, South Africa had lost no elephants for "well over a decade", its national parks authority said.

The latest deaths will raise fears that the country is the latest target of poachers supplying the illegal ivory trade worth more than $1 billion (£656 million) annually, after large-scale attacks on elephants in countries further north.

Most end up in Asia where it is carved into trinkets and given as presents.

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