The carcasses of almost 90 poached elephants have been discovered in Botswana causing one conservation group to say they are experiencing the greatest scale of elephant poaching recorded in Africa. Three white rhinoceroses were also killed in the same area over the past three months, according to the report.
The disarming of the anti-poaching unit has reportedly led to a rise in poaching in Botswana, which was home to 130 000 elephants.
"I'm shocked, I'm completely astounded", Dr. Mike Chase with the group told the BBC.
A census estimated a third of Africa's elephants had been killed in the last decade.
According to the organisation's elephant census, Botswana hosts the biggest number of African savanna elephants, with about 130,000 elephants, more than triple the size of Tanzania's elephant population and nearly eight times that of South Africa.
"Most the operations we do are assisting the Department of Wildlife in anti-poaching", explained Brigadier Mpho C. Mophuting, commandant of training for the Botswana Defence Force's Ground Forces Command, in a 2012 article.
Elephant poaching in Africa declined for a 5th straight year in 2016, according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, but the trade in illegal ivory remains relatively stable. "We have the world's largest elephant population and it's open season for poachers".
'Clearly we need to be doing more to stop the scale of what we are recording on our survey'.
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The census found roughly 350,000 elephants in 18 African countries.
A senior official in the president's office, Carter Morupisi, told journalists in Botswana at the time that the "government has chose to withdraw military weapons and equipment from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks", but he did not explain why.
As it stands, the aerial survey is only halfway complete and conservationists are concerned that the total number of poached elephants found could be far higher.
And Chase believes that the authorities in Botswana might ignore the problem as can damage the nation's reputation.
"Botswana has always been at the forefront of conservation and it will require political will".
He continued: "This requires urgent and immediate action by the Botswana government".
'Our new president must uphold Botswana's legacy and tackle this problem quickly.