A distressing photograph of a butchered elephant has been released, showing the true horror of ivory hunting in northern Botswana.
The drone-shot image, titled 'Disconnection', shows the bloody corpse of a mutilated African elephant with its severed trunk dumped next to it and its tusks ripped out.
According to reports, poachers use chainsaws to cut off the trunk and tusks of the powerful animals, leaving the rest of the body behind.
The shocking pictures were captured by photographer Justin Sullivan, from Cape Town, South Africa.
He said he was filming for a private company in Botswana and overheard rangers talking about the poached elephant.
"They said an elephant had just been poached and I asked to be taken to the site. On arrival, I used a drone to capture the image," said the 28-year-old.
"The image is called 'Disconnection' - the perspective of the image gives context to the situation which you would never be able to see from the ground.
"The high angle looking top down shows isolation and highlights not only the physical disconnection of the animal, but our disconnection from the situation.
"The image has drawn a lot of attention. People have obviously reacted with mixed feelings of anger and sadness, especially with the recent lift on the hunting ban in Botswana, but this photo has driven some constructive dialogue around how we can promote more sustainable elephant conversation and solve our current ecological crisis."
Justin's incredibly powerful photograph has now been chosen for the prestigious Andrei Stenin International Press Photo Contest, which will be decided later this year.
It comes after a leading conservation group warned of an increase in elephant poaching in parts of Botswana. According to a reports published on Thursday, between 2017 and 2018, around 400 were killed across the country.
The research, carried out by Elephants Without Borders, was published in the scientific journal Current Biology alongside claims that pressure will be increased on Botswana, which last month caused international controversy when it announced that it was lifting the ban on hunting.
The report said: "This evidence suggests that ivory poaching on the scale of hundreds of elephants per year has been occurring in northern Botswana since 2017 or possibly earlier."
Reports also state that the number of bodies in the northern part of the country rose by 593 percent between 2014 and 2018.
Botswana, which boasts the highest number of elephants in Africa, had previously been a haven for the animals, with 'little poaching reported' in a 2014 survey.
Featured Image Credit: Magnus