The International Fund for Animal Welfare reports that poachers in Chad slaughtered 86 elephants, including 33 pregnant females, in less than a week and hacked out their ivory.
IFAW says it's the worst killing spree of elephants since early 2012 when poachers from Chad and Sudan killed as many as 650 elephants in a matter of weeks in Cameroon's Bouba Ndjida National Park.
"This is completely shocking," said Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare in France and Francophone Africa (IFAW - www.ifaw.org).
"Elephants in Central Africa continue to be under siege from unscrupulous poachers. The killing of 86 elephants, including pregnant cows, is evidence of the callous brutality demanded to feed the appetite of the ivory trade," said Sissler-Bienvenu.
A CITES-led project that monitors about 40 percent of Africa's elephant population estimated that 17,000 elephants were illegally killed in 2011, and the report said the numbers are probably the same or greater for last year.
The report, "Elephants in the Dust — The African Elephant Crisis," said criminal networks are increasingly active and entrenched in the trafficking of ivory between Africa and Asia. "Training of enforcement officers in the use of tracking, intelligence networks and innovative techniques, such as forensic analysis, is urgently needed."
A the recent meeting of CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, three African and five Asian nations were put on notice that they have failed to adequately crack down on the ivory trade, and that they must come up with a detailed and credible plan of action for curbing the trade across and within their borders. They must also meet those targets or face trade sanctions next year.
Jason Bell, Director of IFAW's Elephant Programme, said it's now almost inevitable that certain regions of Africa face the total decimation of their elephant populations.
"The poaching of elephants for their ivory is an issue of global significance, and needs a global response if we are to turn the killing fields of Central Africa into safe havens for elephants. This cannot happen in a vacuum. Ivory consuming nations - notably China - have to make a concerted effort to reduce the demand for ivory in their own backyards. Otherwise, the battle to save elephants will be lost," said Bell.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.