By Jeremy Hance
During a single night in March, horse-riding poachers slaughtered 89 elephants in Chad, including over 30 pregnant mothers. Now officials say they have caught the ringleader behind the mass-killing: Hassan Idriss, also known as Gargaf.
Idriss was presented to journalists along with 124 tusks earlier this month. Officials say that Idriss ran a crew of around 50 poachers. In total, Chad's Environment Minister, Mahamat Issa Halikimi, says that Idriss has been behind the slaughter of nearly 200 elephants since August 2012, including an incident where five wildlife rangers were killed.
"It is unacceptable that lawless men roam our forests and carry out massacres of large animals when efforts to protect the environment in our country are well recognized internationally," Halikimi said.
Elephant poaching has hit record levels in recent years, driven by demand for ivory in East Asia, including Thailand, the Philippines, and China. Recent research has estimated that 60 percent of the world's forest elephants have been killed by poachers in the last decade alone.