Botswana’s elephants and conservation – are things starting to fall apart?
The picture of Dr Mike Chase grimly viewing the carcass of a poached elephant in the Chobe Enclave in northern Botswana is doubly poignant. Not only is it one of at least 26 elephants poached for their ivory there recently, but Mike Chase has just completed the massive Great Elephant Census of many of Africa’s savannah elephants. This massive survey is aimed at providing data to help conserve elephants and their habitat and inform debates over the levels of poaching and of human-elephant conflict. It found a decline in savannah elephant numbers in 18 states surveyed (but oddly excludes those in Namibia, Central African Republic and South Sudan – and all forest elephants) over the last nine years (much of which was already known, though and recorded in the African Elephant Database) and the full import of the new minimum estimate of 352,271 has still to be assessed against existing data.