One of the Largest Subspecies of Giraffes Is Declared Endangered: the Masai

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One of the Largest Subspecies of Giraffes Is Declared Endangered: the Masai

Conservationists have been sounding the alarm bells on giraffes for several years. In 2016, the IUCN listed giraffes as a whole as vulnerable, the status just above endangered after finding that over three decades giraffes suffered up to a 40 percent population drop, plummeting from an estimated 157,000 individuals to 97,500.

Currently, two of the nine giraffe subspecies—the Kordofan and Nubian—are critically endangered, while the Reticulated is endangered. Now, after a recent assessment, the Masai subspecies has also been listed as endangered. It’s the first time the population has been analyzed on its own, and the status is a big deal since there are an estimated 35,000 individual Masai left, making it one of the largest-remaining subspecies of the gentle giants and, therefore, a key population for keeping the species numbers up.

Previously, the Masai subspecies was the most-populous group of giraffes, with an estimated 71,000 individuals. That drop of 49 to 51 percent of the subspecies in the last 30 years was what prompted the listing, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.

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.

The United States May List Giraffes as an Endangered Species As Young Population Plummets

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The United States May List Giraffes as an Endangered Species As Young Population Plummets

Between 1985 and 2016, the world's giraffe population plummeted by nearly 40 percent. Just over 97,000 of the long-necked mammals remain in the wild, including 68,000 mature adults—equivalent to less than a quarter of the world’s estimated African elephant population, Michael Biesecker reports for the Associated Press. While elephants were listed as a threatened species under the United States’ Endangered Species Act in 1978, giraffes have yet to receive any such legal protections.

petition filed by environmental and conservation groups in April 2017 may pave the way for giraffes’ addition to the legislative act. According to the statement, the petition presents “substantial information that listing may be warranted,” as threats, including land development, civil unrest, commercial trade and poaching, pose major obstacles to the species’ long-term survival.

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.

Elephant Conservation Update From Botswana Includes Pending Prince Harry Transfer Of Elephants To Zambia

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Elephant Conservation Update From Botswana Includes Pending Prince Harry Transfer Of Elephants To Zambia

PORTER escapes to Belmond Savute Elephant Lodge, an adventurous tented hideaway in Botswana’s Savute Channel, part of Chobe National Park and boasting the highest concentration of elephants in Africa.

Belmond Savute prides itself on a “happy marriage of style and substance; for the eco-conscious traveler”, offering “the tents’ sustainable design features (that) include the removal of all concrete, the use of eco-friendly composite bamboo decking in the principal areas, and a 95% solar-grid system for power.” 

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Elephant Deaths in Botswana

Since September 2018, controversy has swirled in Botswana around the story that 87 elephants were reported to be “killed by poachers’ in Botswana. The high-impact story originated with “Elephants Without Borders,” an NGO in the USA and Botswana surveying the elephant population.

Under the new government of Mokgweetsi Masisi, Botswana’s parliament is exploring its ban on trophy hunting, citing the large size of Botswana’s elephant population and the growing issue of human-elephant conflic (HEC) in the country.

Politicians have quoted the Botswana elephant population to be as large as 237,000. However the African Elephant Status Report (AESR) estimates Botswana’s elephant population to be 131,626 individuals migrating across an area of 228,073 square kilometres. The vast majority of these elephants occur in the northern region that includes Chobe, Moremi, and the Okavango Delta.