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By Andrea Matthee

The Botswana government is in denial about the extent of its country’s elephant poaching problem. When presented with scientific proof of an increase in poaching, Botswana president, Mokgweetsi Masisi, described the findings as the “biggest hoax of the 21st Century.” This despite the findings being reviewed by a number of international elephant experts.

The recent aerial wildlife survey, conducted by Elephants Without Borders, showed an increased number of fresh elephant carcasses in the north of Botswana.

Elephants Without Borders’ Mike Chase, the scientist who conducted the survey, 128 recently-killed elephants were discovered. Along with photographic evidence, the final report shows four poaching hotspots and has been reviewed by a number of international elephant experts.

The Botswana government called the figures “false and misleading.” Chase has received death threats and has had one of his two research licenses, suspended by the Botswana government.

Network for Animals’ Campaign Director, David Barritt, said: “It is very concerning that the government is choosing to ignore these statistics. Botswana is home to 130,000 elephants and gains much of its tourism from tourists wanting to see these beautiful animals. Ignoring the problem, and accusing experts of false reporting, is certainly not in the best interests of Botswana’s economy, or its tourist industry.”

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