Botswana Has An Elephant Poaching Problem, Not An Overpopulation Problem

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Botswana Has An Elephant Poaching Problem, Not An Overpopulation Problem

The Botswana government recently reintroduced trophy hunting after a five-year moratorium. It did so on the pretext that Botswana has “too many elephants”.

But a new academic paper shows that this argument doesn’t hold.

The researchers compared the results of two aerial surveys in northern Botswana. The first was conducted in 2014, the second in 2018. Both were conducted during the dry season. This allowed for easy detection of changes over time.

A 94,000km2 area was studied and the elephant population estimated at 122,700 in 2018. This was roughly similar to the 2014 numbers.

But comparing results from the 2014 and 2018 aerial surveys, the scientists found that the numbers of elephant carcasses have increased, especially for newer carcasses dead for less than roughly 1 year. Populations can remain stable despite increased carcass counts because of new births and immigration from other range states.

The Botswana government recently reintroduced trophy hunting after a five-year moratorium. It did so on the pretext that Botswana has “too many elephants”.

But a new academic paper shows that this argument doesn’t hold.

The researchers compared the results of two aerial surveys in northern Botswana. The first was conducted in 2014, the second in 2018. Both were conducted during the dry season. This allowed for easy detection of changes over time.

A 94,000km2 area was studied and the elephant population estimated at 122,700 in 2018. This was roughly similar to the 2014 numbers.

But comparing results from the 2014 and 2018 aerial surveys, the scientists found that the numbers of elephant carcasses have increased, especially for newer carcasses dead for less than roughly 1 year. Populations can remain stable despite increased carcass counts because of new births and immigration from other range states.

Queen Elizabeth Plans Meghan's B-Day Party At Balmoreal As Royals Eye Fall 2019 Africa Trip

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Queen Elizabeth Plans Meghan's B-Day Party At Balmoreal As Royals Eye Fall 2019 Africa Trip

Today June 17th, Prince Harry is working with HALO representatives, representatives of the Angolan government, conservation experts and philanthropists worldwide to discuss how clearing landmines from the unique Okavango headwaters in Angola is step one in protecting this precious habitat.

Twice as large as the UK, the Kavango-Zambezi Trans-Frontier Conservation Area (KAZA) is Africa’s great wild space where Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe converge. At its heart is the World Heritage Site of the Okavango Delta, fed by headwaters rising in the far southeast of Angola. The success of the KAZA is of crucial importance to the development of southern Africa.

Five Things to Know About Botswana’s Decision to Lift Ban on Hunting Elephants

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Five Things to Know About Botswana’s Decision to Lift Ban on Hunting Elephants

Botswana, home to the world’s largest African elephant population, has lifted its five-year suspension of elephant hunting, attracting the ire of conservationists while placating those who argue that the land giants, known to kill livestock and destroy crops, are wreaking havoc on locals’ livelihoods.

In a statement detailing the reversal, Botswana’s Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism cited the increasing prevalence of human-elephant conflict, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks’ inability to respond to animal control reports in a timely fashion, and the toll on communities ill-equipped to handle the unimpeded roaming of these roughly 12,000-pound creatures. The ministry further said that reinstatement will be performed “in an orderly and ethical manner.”

The exact nature of this “ethical” implementation remains unclear, as do the long-term ramifications of the decision for both Botswana’s human and pachyderm residents. But in the meantime, here’s what we do know:

Elephants Reduced to a Political Football as Botswana Brings Back Hunting

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Elephants Reduced to a Political Football as Botswana Brings Back Hunting

Botswana has reinstated trophy hunting after a 5-year moratorium on the practice.

In the wake of evidently declining wildlife numbers, former president Ian Khama imposed the ban in early 2014. Elephant numbers had plummeted by 15% in the preceding decade. The hunting industry had been granted a total quota of between 420 and 800 elephants a year during that time. Evidence of abuse was prolific and communities were not benefiting from the fees that hunters were paying.

Over the past five years Botswana has earned a reputation as the continent’s last elephant haven. It harbours just over a third of Africa’s remaining savanna elephants.

Khama’s successor, Mokgweetsi Masisi, has been in the job for just over a year. He’s promoted a conservation doctrine that is diametrically opposed to Khama’s.

Masisi recently hosted a conference in Kasane that brought together heads of state and environment ministers from Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Its pretext was to formulate a common vision for managing southern Africa’s elephants under the banner of the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA). But the conference was used to drum up support for Botswana’s intended reversion to elephant hunting.

Burning Chillies and Dung Could Help Stop Elephants Damaging Farmers’ Crops, While We Search For Big Solutions That Work

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Burning Chillies and Dung Could Help Stop Elephants Damaging Farmers’ Crops, While We Search For Big Solutions That Work

By Rocio Pozo, Postdoctoral Research Associate in Environmental Sciences, University of Stirling. First published on The Conversation.

Note from Anne: AOC has shared extensive research about human’s conflict with elephants in Africa. In my experience most Westerners have almost no patience, understanding or empathy around the lives of African farmers living with the elephants. Please watch the embedded video ‘Pathways to Coexistence’ documentary (2015), a SUPERBLY well-done, balanced examination of a conflict between elephants and people, conflict that will only intensify in Africa with population growth and economic expansion.

Humans — specifically African farmers — are not the bag guys in this wrenching drama around saving our precious elephants. A change in the overly-simplistic, American and European Twitter-universe, off-with-their heads attitudes towards trophy hunters (we agree) and farmers (we don’t agree) is long overdue on this complex topic.

New Survey Raises Concerns About Elephant Poaching in Botswana

New Survey Raises Concerns About Elephant Poaching in Botswana

By Ross Harvey, Senior Researcher in Natural Resource Governance (Africa), South African Institute of International Affairs. First published on The Conversation

Botswana has an elephant poaching problem. The numbers far exceed previous years according to a new survey. The survey was conducted between July and October 2018 by conservation group Elephants without Borders, in collaboration with Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks.

The survey reported a total of 1677 observed carcasses in the survey area of northern Botswana. The surveyors visited carcasses that were of concern – reported as possibly poached – which numbered 104 out of a total of 128 “fresh” carcasses.