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News and events from around the world
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Humans are the most disgusting, violent and disrespectful creatures on the planet. This much we know
In a scene of inconceivable horror, these slaughtered elephant carcasses show the barbaric lengths poachers will go to in their hunt for nature's grim booty.
The bodies were among a herd of 22 animals massacred in a helicopter-borne attack by professionals who swooped over their quarry.
The scene beneath the rotor blades would have been chilling - panicked mothers shielding their young, hair-raising screeches and a mad scramble through the blood-stained bush as bullets rained down from the sky.
When the shooting was over, all of the herd lay dead, one of the worst such killings in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo in living memory.
'It's been a long time since we've seen something like this,' said Dr Tshibasu Muamba, head of international cooperation for the Congolese state conservation agency, ICCN, as he surveyed the macarbre scene at Garamba National Park.
After the slaughter, the killers set about removing their tusks and genitals before likely smuggling them through South Sudan or Uganda, which form part of an 'Ivory Road' linking Africa to Asia.
Elephant and rhino poaching is surging, conservationists say, an illegal piece of Asia's scramble for African resources, driven by the growing purchasing power of the region's newly affluent classes.
(Warning: The pictures are pretty disturbing if you want to continue reading)
Read More: Unimaginable horror as helicopter-borne poachers massacre 22 elephants
Humans will eventually kill off everything including themselves. When the ecosystem gets way out of whack from the varieties of destruction, depletion and pollution, life as we currently know it will die off....unless human's learn how to change, but that wont happen any time soon.
Slaughter of rhinos at record high
Rhinos are being killed in such unprecedented numbers that there are realistic fears they could be wiped from the face of the planet within a generation. If this happens, it will be the first major extinction of an animal in the wild since the worldwide conservation movement began.
The bare statistics are horrifying. In South Africa, more rhinos are being slaughtered for their horns in a single week than were killed in a whole year a decade ago. And the death toll is fast accelerating. In 2007, a mere 13 were killed. In 2008, it was 83, and, a year later, 122. Last year it was 448, and this year, by 19 April, it was 181. That is equivalent to 600 a year in a country which is home to 93 per cent of all white rhinos. One expert thinks that at this rate the species could be wiped out by 2025. Others think it could take longer. Patrick Bergin, chief executive of African Wildlife Foundation, said: "If the poaching of rhino continues at current rates, we could see their extinction within our lifetime. The situation is absolutely at crisis levels."
This attrition is being driven by the astonishing street value for rhino horn, which fetches £40,000 a kilo, more even than gold. Chinese medicine and jewellery are the main markets, but, in recent years, widespread rumours in Vietnam that rhino horn can cure cancer has seen demand there rocket. As a result, the Javan rhino became extinct in that country in November, the last known animal being found dead with its horn hacked off.
There has also been a huge and sharp rise in elephants being killed for their ivory. Mozambique reports that in just one reserve the number of elephant carcasses found in 2011 is nearly 25 times greater than 10 years before. And the wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic said that 2011 was by far the worst year for ivory seizures since the group's records began more than 20 years ago. The amount of ivory seized last year probably equates to some 2,500 dead elephants, according to Traffic.
Organised crime has moved into both rhino and elephant poaching, with hi-tech equipment used for industrial-scale killing. Reuters reported last week from the Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo on a family of elephants killed when poachers swept over them in a helicopter gunship. The report said: "The scene beneath the rotor blades would have been chilling: panicked mothers shielding their young, hair-raising screeches and a mad scramble through the blood-stained bush as bullets rained down from the sky. When the shooting was over, 22 elephants lay dead ... their tusks and genitals removed for sale in Asia."
Richard Emslie, scientific officer for the African rhino group at the International Union for Conservation of Nature, said: "We are facing a horrific situation at the moment where some of the poachers are using veterinary drugs, drugging the rhinos and then hacking off the horns and part of the face at the same time, so they get the whole lot, while the animal is still alive."
So critical is the situation that earlier this month, an emergency summit of wildlife authorities, scientists, owners of private rhino reserves and security experts was hosted in Nairobi by the African Wildlife Foundation and the Kenya Wildlife Service.
A statement issued afterwards said: "The situation is rapidly reaching crisis levels and requires far-reaching efforts to ensure the continued survival of rhinos across Africa ... Africa's rhino population is currently estimated at 25,000 – still low in relation to historical numbers – and it is suggested that, if poaching continues at current rates, there will no longer be any rhino left in the wild by 2025."
Read More: Slaughter of rhinos at record high
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