Africa is in the midst of an epic elephant slaughter. Conservation groups say poachers are wiping out tens of thousands of elephants a year, more than at any time in the previous two decades, with the underground ivory trade becoming increasingly militarized. ...NYT
And then the story really gets grim. This isn't about surviving poverty. This is about increasing profits. And with American help, as it happens.
Twenty-two dead elephants, including several very young ones, clumped together on the open savanna, many killed by a single bullet to the top of the head.
There were no tracks leading away, no sign that the poachers had stalked their prey from the ground. The tusks had been hacked away, but none of the meat — and subsistence poachers almost always carve themselves a little meat for the long walk home.
Several days later, in early April, the Garamba National Park guards spotted a Ugandan military helicopter flying very low over the park, on an unauthorized flight, but they said it abruptly turned around after being detected. Park officials, scientists and the Congolese authorities now believe that the Ugandan military — one of the Pentagon’s closest partners in Africa — killed the 22 elephants from a helicopter and spirited away more than a million dollars’ worth of ivory. ...NYT
We train and support the Uganda military (and the Congolese and South Sudan military) "with millions of taxpayer dollars," according to the Times report. And with our support, China and other Asian syndicates trade in the ivory. It's big business.
“We’re experiencing what is likely to be the greatest percentage loss of elephants in history,” said Richard G. Ruggiero, an official with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. ...NYT