30 Elephants Die In Brutal, 2-Week Slaughter

<p> Shutterstock </p>

A Congolese national park lost 30 of its most charismatic residents when poachers swept the area, conducting a mass slaughter. The animals were all dead within the past two weeks, park officials announced Monday.

Officials also said the killings were likely carried out by the Sudanese militia, which has reportedly traded illegal ivory for arms and supplies. The park is home to some 1,700 elephants, but just 150 rangers protect its 5,019 square miles - which makes it vulnerable to ivory-hungry poachers. Conservation director at African Parks Jean Marc Froment told Agence France-Presse that the poachers are moving on from other areas where elephant herds are already thinning.


"These are very experienced elephant hunters," he said.

The slaughter comes at a time when the world's leaders are meeting to address this very problem. In Botswana, the Africa Elephant Summit has gathered leaders from more than 20 countries, including the world's largest ivory market, China.

New numbers released there by the International Union for Conservation of Nature don't give much hope for the African elephant population, which dropped from 550,000 in 2006 to 470,000 in 2013.

Dune Ives, a U.S. researcher, gave the leaders a dire warning about the future of elephants.

"This species could be extinct in our lifetime, within one or two decades, if the current trend continues," he said.