Poachers killed at least six elephants in a single day last week in Ethiopia, after the animals ventured outside the country’s protected Mago National Park in search of water. An additional two elephants are thought to have been killed in the attack, though their deaths have not been confirmed. The incident marks the first time local officials have experienced such a mass killing of elephants — in 2019, the Ethiopian government documented no more than 10 killings throughout the entire year.
“The poachers then removed all the tusks from the elephants. It was a mass killing. We haven’t seen anything like this before,” said Ganabul Bulmi, chief warden of the park, to reporters.
In recent months, poachers have taken the opportunity to strike when opportunity allows. The lack of visitors has increased opportunities for poachers to strike, and with authorities diverting attention to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is little chance of them being caught.
Ethiopia’s elephant population faces an imminent threat from poachers. For years, the animals have been targeted for their ivory tusks, which are sold on the black market. The country’s elephant population has dwindled from over 10,000 in the 1970s to less than 3,000 elephants today. About 400,000 elephants remain in Africa, down from an estimated 700,000 in 2014, according to the World Wildlife Fund.