By Matt McGrath
A heavily armed gang has killed an unknown number of elephants at a world heritage site in the Central African Republic.
WWF says that ivory poachers were seen using a scientist's observation platform to shoot the animals, which gather there in large numbers.
The campaigners say they are extremely worried about the elephants in Dzanga-Ndoki national park.
The head of Cites has also expressed grave concern about the animals' fate.
On Monday, WWF issued a warning that a group of 17 individuals, some armed with heavy-calibre rifles, had entered the park and was heading for the Dzanga-bai, an area known locally as the "village of elephants".
Up to 200 elephants are said to gather here daily to drink mineral salts present in the sands.
Local guards told WWF that they saw armed men using the Dzanga-bai observation platform to shoot the animals. The platform is normally used by scientists and tourists.
"We know that there was a lot of Kalashnikov fire over the last couple of days, and into the night," said Dr Anna Feistner, of WWF, who has been based in the area for the past three years.
"We now know the guys have left. Our belief is that elephants have been killed but we don't yet know the scale." More....