BOUBA NDJIDA  - Nearly 500 elephants have been killed in a Cameroon national park in less than two months by poachers from Sudan and Chad, a park official told AFP on Thursday.

“As of today we estimate that 480 elephants have been slaughtered in our park,” said Mathieu Fometa of the Bouba Ndjida National Park in northern Cameroon, near the border with Chad, where the animals roam freely.

“Formally, we did count 458 carcasses,” he said, but he cautioned that “these figures may be an underestimate because the park covers 220,000 hectares (540,000 acres) and it isn’t easy to travel to get accurate information.”

On Thursday an AFP reporter saw 12 elephant carcasses at three sites in the park, some of them having been shot Tuesday according to sources.

Between Sunday and Tuesday “our teams counted at least 20 elephants killed” in those three days, said Fometa, who added that the killers were still in the park, having said in January they would stay for three months.

The government has taken no visible steps to secure the park.