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.

Mozambique's Niassa Reserve Celebrates One Year Of No Elephant Kills | The Women Of Gorongosa Park

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Mozambique's Niassa Reserve Celebrates One Year Of No Elephant Kills | The Women Of Gorongosa Park

Beautiful Girls Meet Animals in Central Mozambique’s Gorongosa Park,

Researching the Niassa Reserve story, AOC found this exquisite video from Mozambique’s Gorongosa Park that’s a total respite — a small escape — from the world’s tragic events on The Guardian website.

Before you watch it, consider that in March 2019, Cyclone Idai devastated the communities around Mozambique's Gorongosa Park. There was no escape, no respite for the people of Mozambique as we steal precious moments with this video.

National Geographic reminded us just now of the cyclone, with the coincidence of a feature story on Grongosa National Park in the May 2019 issue of National Geographic. Click here to learn how you can help on the National Geographic website. Also, Gorongosa itself has information about devastation from the cyclone and how to help.

Landmines in Angola: How African Elephants’ Amazing Sense of Smell Could Save Lives

CHISHURU, A MALE AFRICAN ELEPHANT, INDICATES A TARGET SCENT DURING TRIALS. IMAGE BY GRAHAM ALEXANDER.

CHISHURU, A MALE AFRICAN ELEPHANT, INDICATES A TARGET SCENT DURING TRIALS. IMAGE BY GRAHAM ALEXANDER.

Landmines in Angola: How African Elephants’ Amazing Sense of Smell Could Save Lives

By Ashadee Kay Miller, PhD Candidate, School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand. First published on The Conversation.

For 27 years Angola was gripped by civil war. Half a million human lives were lost and wildlife, too, was decimated to sustain troops. Rhino and elephants became valuable targets – rhino horn and ivory served as currency for arms among rebel forces.

During the conflict elephant populations fled across the border into Botswana, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. When the war ended in 2002 animal populations slowly started to return to their pre-conflict grazing grounds. But a huge problem remained: millions of landmines were still in situ and undetonated across Angola. Many elephants were killed and maimed by the explosives as they attempted to recolonise.

Data collected from collared elephants moving through the affected areas showed herds avoiding minefields. This suggested that at least some of the returning elephants had associated minefields with danger. What could this association be based on? Had the minefield-avoiding elephants seen others killed in those areas? Or had they associated the smell of landmines with danger, extrapolating risk to other areas where the odour was present?

We couldn’t answer all these questions. To narrow down our search my colleagues and I set about finding out whether elephants could smell the main component of landmines – Trinitrotoluene (TNT).

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.

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.

‘Too Many Elephants’ in Africa? Here’s How Peaceful Coexistence with Human Communities Can Help

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‘Too Many Elephants’ in Africa? Here’s How Peaceful Coexistence with Human Communities Can Help

Africa’s elephant population has plummeted from roughly a million in 1970 to around 400,000 today – a decline which is largely blamed on poaching for their ivory tusks. At its peak in 2011, poaching claimed 36,000 elephants a year, or one every 15 minutes.

Many of us are familiar with these statistics thanks to campaigns to end the ivory trade. But with our attention focused on poaching, an arguably greater threat to Africa’s elephants has emerged. In the time that Africa’s elephant population has crashed, its human population has boomed. The number of people living in Africa has doubled since 1982, reaching a billion in 2009, and is expected to double again by 2050.

To feed and house this growing population, natural habitats have been fragmented by roads and railways and entire swathes have been converted to farmland and settlements. As a result, Africa’s elephants have been squeezed into smaller and increasingly isolated pockets of land. It’s very possible that the future for all of Africa’s elephants will resemble what is currently seen in South Africa.

Safari Tourism May Make Elephants More Aggressive – But It’s Still the Best Tool for Conservation

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Safari Tourism May Make Elephants More Aggressive – But It’s Still the Best Tool for Conservation

By Isabelle Szott, PhD Candidate in Conservation Biology, Liverpool John Moores University and Nicola F. Koyama, Senior Lecturer in Natural Sciences and Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University. First published on The Conversation.

Going on safari in Africa offers tourists the opportunity to see some of the most spectacular wildlife on Earth – including African elephants (Loxodonta africana). Known for their complex social systemslong memory and high intelligence, this species is also threatened by poaching and shrinking habitats, so further disturbance to their precarious existence could have serious consequences.

Wildlife tourism can help protect these animals and their habitat by generating income for conservation and providing stable work in local economies. Countries such as South Africa and Kenya receive two to five million visitors to protected areas each year, generating receipts of up to USD$90m. But as it becomes more popular worldwide, it’s worth remembering that we often don’t know how tourism affects the animals we observe.