68 elephants killed in the last two months at African wildlife refuge

Sixty-eight elephants in one of Africa’s oldest national parks – Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo – have been slaughtered in the past two months by poachers who attack with chain saws, grenades and guns, according to a non-profit group managing the park on Friday.

The slaughtered elephants make up four percent of the entire population in Garamba National Park. Elephants in the park are constantly being killed by Congolese soldiers, gunmen from South Sudan, the Lord’s Resistance Army and other militia groups, seeking valuable ivory.

Groups are usually hunting to feed the thriving market in Asia, according to conservationists. Hunters shoot the elephants from a helicopter, then use the chain saws to cut off the tusks, as well as the animals’ genitals and brains.

“The situation is extremely serious,” Garamba Park Manager Jean-Marc Froment told the Associated Press. “The park is under attack on all fronts.”

Last year, 20,000 elephants were killed in Africa alone. Conservationists said that the recent poaching epidemic has been the worst in decades.