In a report published by a leading conservation group, nearly 400 elephants are said to be killed across Botswana in 2017 and 2018, which adds to conservation woes.
The Elephants Without Borders (EWB), the conservation group, recently published a report on the scientific journal “Current Biology,” explaining the aftermath of lifting the ban on elephant hunting. The report noted that a 593 percent increase in fresh elephant carcasses in the north of the country since 2014, and will no doubt continue to increase now that elephant hunting is no longer banned.
“This evidence suggests that ivory poaching on the scale of hundreds of elephants per year has been occurring in northern Botswana since 2017 or possibly earlier,” the report stated.
Then Botswana president Ian Khama, an environmentalist and advocate, first introduced the ban back in 2014, but several people still illegally capture and poach the elephants. A turnover of office to now president Mokgweetsi Masisi also turned an upside turn for the country’s wildlife. Masisi, along with his cabinet committee, lifted the ban less than a month ago in favor of the farmers who sought to kill the elephants who destroy their crops and damage their livelihoods.
In an aerial survey last year, EWB claimed nearly 90 elephants were poached, a number that was highly contested by the government.
The study also reported that an estimate of 385 elephants were killed for their tusks between 2017 and 2018, while 156 were confirmed to be poached last year alone. Dr. Michael Chase, co-author of the report, said their paper was “indisputable and supports our warning that elephant bulls are being killed by poaching gangs.”
Meanwhile, Botswana officials were not available to comment on the said research.
In a 2014 survey, Botswana used to house the largest elephant population in Africa with very “little poaching reported.” But in a 2018 survey of the country’s 94,000 square kilometer, about 94 fresh carcasses and 62 older ones have been verified by researchers as poached.
Though an increase in poaching was reported, the elephant populations in the country have remained stable from 2014 to 2018, which is around 122,700.