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.

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.

Criminals Will Not Leave 500,000 Tons Of Woolly Mammoth Ivory Tusks Buried In Arctic

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Criminals Will Not Leave 500,000 Tons Of Woolly Mammoth Ivory Tusks Buried In Arctic

The upcoming CITIES conference, taking place in Sri Lanka from May 23 to June 3 and attended by 183 countries, will consider the Israeli proposal to give protection status to the woolly mammoth, a species extinct for 10,000 years.

Supporters of the Israeli proposal argue that affording the prehistoric mammoth Appendix II protection under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)could play a vital role in saving elephants who are being poached at the rate of around 30,000 animals a year.

Many argue that banning woolly mammoth ivory will only drive the excavation of woolly mammoth ivory into organized crime syndicates. A ban on woolly mammoth ivory will surely drive up the price of ivory, making it impossible to believe that the estimated 500,000 tons of mammoth tusks buried in the Arctic will remain there untouched.

Damien Mander Creates Female 'Akashinga' Anti-Poaching Force In Zimbabwe's Phundundu Wildlife Park

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Damien Mander Creates Female 'Akashinga' Anti-Poaching Force In Zimbabwe's Phundundu Wildlife Park

Faye Cuevas is not alone in recruiting women as wildlife rangers, responsible for patrolling and even shooting if necessary, ivory poachers. In September 2018, the BBC featured former Special Forces sniper, Australian Damien Mander, who says he found his ‘higher calling’ protecting wildlife in Africa. Knowing what key global military experts, including America’s own top military brass believes, Mander specifically focused on creating a female anti-poaching force in Zimbabwe’s Phundundu Wildlife Park nature reserve a 115 square mile former trophy hunting area that is part of a larger ecosystem home to some 11,000 elephants.

Though women rarely serve as rangers in Africa — a reality that Faye Cuevas also confronted in Kenya — Mander believes that putting the well-being of wildlife in their expertly trained hands could usher in a new way of carrying out conservation. In Mander’s vast experience, he believes that women rangers will create conservation practices that are far less violent, while empowering women and improving communities in the process.

“There’s a saying in Africa, ‘If you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation’,” Mander says. “We’re seeing increasing evidence that empowering women is one of the greatest forces of change in the world today.”

Mander is hitting roadblocks, especially in his vision for 4,500 female rangers protecting wildlife across Africa. You can imagine the havoc he’s creating!


Kenya's US Anti-Poaching Expert Faye Cuevas Announces 'Team Lioness', 8 Young Maasai Women Rangers + Plans For Many More

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Kenya's US Anti-Poaching Expert Faye Cuevas Announces 'Team Lioness', 8 Young Maasai Women Rangers + Plans For Many More

Team Lioness, a team of eight young Maasai women is one of Kenya’s first all-female ranger units — and the direct result of Faye’s consultations with the Masaii women leaders. Officially announced on March 6, 2019, Team Lioness joins the Olgulului Community Wildlife Rangers (OCWR) who protect wildlife across six bases and one mobile unit in OOGR through IFAW’s tenBoma, an innovative wildlife security initiative. Team Lioness is operating in this precious natural corridor created by Kenya and Tanzania under the majesty of Kilimanjaro.

“In the larger Amboseli region, out of almost 300 wildlife rangers, to my knowledge there was only one woman,” Faye explained, in introducing Team Lioness. “The need was apparent.”

 The women of team Lioness were selected based on their academic achievements and physical strength, as well as their demonstration of trustworthiness, discipline, and integrity. Typically, a Maasai girl leaves school around age 10 and have few opportunities to achieve a higher education.

“It’s very rare that Maasai women achieve a secondary education,” says Cuevas. “But all of team Lioness have the equivalent of a US high school education, and none of them have had a paying job before this. It’s breaking barriers.”

“As the first women joining the OCWR Rangers, each of the team Lioness recruits brings a new perspective and a different experience with wildlife than her male counterparts,” Faye continues. “They are important voices in protecting wildlife and reconnecting communities to the benefits of sharing land with the magnificent big cats and other wildlife that call OOGR home.”

Will Burrard-Lucas + Tsavo Trust + BeetleCam Capture Kenya's Endangered, Magnificent Elephant Queens

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Will Burrard-Lucas + Tsavo Trust + BeetleCam Capture Kenya's Endangered, Magnificent Elephant Queens

You are forgiven for thinking that F_MU1 is a woolly mammoth brought to life. Queen of Elephants, the name photographer Will Burrard-Lucas gave to F__MU1, was a rare “big tusker” elephant, one of perhaps only 30 left in Africa. This royal creature enjoyed a peaceful life for more than 60 years in Kenya’s Tsavo National Park.

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These images of F_MU1, renamed Elephant Queen on WBL’s website, are among the last images captured of her. Over long periods of horrific, violent poaching in Kenya, Elephant Queen is a survivor, and she died a natural death shortly after Burrard-Lucas made these magnificent image captures for his new book ‘Land Of Giants.’

Burrard-Lucas embarked on the ambitious project in partnership with Tsavo Trust in August 2017, in an effort to promote worldwide support for the elephants of Tsavo.

In his own words, the photographer shares his story of meeting Elephant Queen for the first time:

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.

Technology Is Useful, But Drones Alone Won’t Save Africa’s Elephants

Technology Is Useful, But Drones Alone Won’t Save Africa’s Elephants

Technology has made a tremendous difference in the world, in areas as diverse as health and education, and pretty much everything in between.

But is technology the weapon that will ultimately eradicate animal poaching and save various species from eradication? It’s not a silver bullet, but it certainly has potential. That’s why Vulcan – a company started by the late Paul Allen, who co-founded Microsoft – has produced a tech platform called EarthRanger to monitor protected wildlife areas by drawing in big data from cameras, animal collars and vehicle sensors.

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