Up close, it is a horror.
He was a magnificent bull right in his prime, 45 to 50 years old. To get at his prized ivory tusks, poachers hacked off his face.
Slaughtered for their ivory, the elephants are left to rot, their carcasses dotting the dry riverbed; in just two days, we counted the remains of more than 20 elephants in a small area.
Visitors and managers at the tourist camps here are frequently alarmed by the sound of gunshots nearby.
And Chase worries that if Botswana can’t protect its elephants, there’s little hope for the species as a whole.
Chase, the founder of Elephants Without Borders
(EWB), is the lead scientist of the Great Elephant Census
, (GEC) an ambitious project to count all of Africa’s savannah elephants — from the air.
Before the GEC, total elephant numbers were largely guesswork. But over the past two years, 90 scientists and 286 crew have taken to the air above 18 African countries, flying the equivalent of the distance to the moon — and a quarter of the way back — in almost 10,000 hours.