Botswana’s elephant crises is moving toward a resolution. Literally, the overpopulation of elephants in Botswana may reduce through an agreement with Angola, allowing elephant migration. Sadly, Angola lost many elephants during their civil war through land mines. Wisely, Angola’s elephants escaped to Botswana during the conflict. Technically, Angola’s war broke out after independence in 1975 between two former anti-colonial guerilla movements and lasted 35 years.
Botswana – Angolan elephants
Interestingly, Angola’s ongoing conflict, coupled with landmines caused untold harm to humans and elephants. So, that lead to the elephants moving to Botswana. Additionally, Botswana is a legislated safe haven for elephants. Funnily, one has to wonder who told the elephants? Cleverly, the elephants moved into Botswana to find safety. However, Botswana, already supporting a large elephant population of its own, now faces the dilemma of too many elephants.
And, an overpopulation of elephants is a serious problem. Internationally, the problem is misunderstood, causing severe and unjustified criticism. However, a hungry elephant is a formidable destroyer of any environment. Moreover, the destruction of Botswana’s environment is damaging to other wildlife species. Additionally, food shortages lead to rampaging elephants destroying crops, livelihoods and homes of peaceful rural villagers.
Botswana licences elephant hunting
Reluctantly, in an effort to reduce the elephant population, Botswana’s President Masisi reintroduced hunting. Simultaneously, he offered elephants to other African countries. Thankfully, Angola put up their hand. Moreover, with a current population of around ten thousand elephants, it is estimated Angola can accommodate up to 100 000.
However, the solution remains fraught. Actually, both countries need to work on landmine removal, fence dropping and educational awareness of the value of elephant tourism. Notably, it’s pointless to encourage the animals to move back to Angola if there’s not enough protection for them from poachers.
Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area
Currently, most of Botswana’s elephants reside in the 520,000km2 area of the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area. Massive, this area includes five countries and supports almost 50% of the worlds African elephants. Sadly, poaching in Zimbabwe pushes the population up. So, Angola’s diverse southeastern highlands will be a welcome addition to the conservation area.
Furthermore, according to an article in Times Live, Mike Chase, the founder and director of Elephants Without Borders, says, “Southern Angola has prime elephant habitat and, if conditions are safe for elephants, they will return to Angola in great numbers.” Continuing, he adds, “It is natural for elephants to leave areas where numbers are high and seek out areas with fewer elephants for uncrowded access to food and water.”
Additionally, tagging of 150 elephants allow his organisation to satellite-track elephant movements. Importantly, this research indicates elephants already start moving back into Angola. Excitedly, Chase says, “I am confident that, if afforded the right protection, elephant numbers in Angola’s conservation areas could increase quickly.”
Furthermore, this work is only just beginning and funding will be required. Importantly, education, anti-poaching efforts, and incorporation of local communities cost money. Internationally, tourism, an excellent source of environmental funding is restricted courtesy of COVID-19. None-the-less, the work on re-introducing the elephants to Angola begins.
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