clearn.png
Tuesday May 21st, 2019 12:44AM

Botswana, long an elephant refuge, faces poaching threat

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Botswana, long viewed as a rare refuge for African elephants, is coming under increasing threat from poachers.

Poachers are killing elephants in the southern African country in growing numbers after wiping out large numbers of elephants in nearby Zambia and Angola, a conservation group said.

The Elephants Without Borders group and wildlife officials in Botswana have conducted half of a national elephant census and so far have counted nearly 90 "fresh and recent" carcasses of poached elephants, group director Mike Chase said in an email.

A similar census in 2014 found just nine carcasses, according to Chase. Botswana has an estimated 130,000 elephants, the most of any country in Africa.

Botswana's government said Tuesday that there had been inaccurate reporting on elephant poaching. Some carcasses counted by Elephants Without Borders "were not poached but rather died from natural causes and retaliatory killings as a result of human and wildlife conflicts," the government said.

The reported increase in elephant poaching in Botswana could reflect a trend in which poachers move into new territories as conditions become more difficult in regions where they usually operate.

Those conditions could include a dearth of elephants to kill after widespread poaching, or crackdowns on trafficking syndicates in some cases.

Tanzania's Selous region, for example, was heavily hit by elephant poachers but recent data indicates that the killing has slowed. Even so, killings intensified around the same time in Mozambique's Niassa reserve to the south, which is linked to the Selous by a wildlife corridor.

The fight against elephant poaching has made some gains, including a ban on the ivory trade in China, the world's biggest consumer. But experts say the rate of annual elephant losses still exceeds the birth rate, and the encroachment of human settlements is reducing the animals' range.

Botswana, with a population of just over 2 million people, suffers some human-wildlife conflict but has more space than many other countries for animals to roam. Kenya, for example, has a population 25 times larger and is almost as big as Botswana in geographical size.

Botswana's security forces have also had a reputation — and faced criticism from neighboring countries — for allegedly being quick to open fire on suspected poachers, including Namibians and Zimbabweans who were killed after illegally crossing the border.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi, who took office in Botswana this year, has taken steps to reduce the use of military weapons in operations against poachers, according to local media reports.

While the move may have alleviated tension with Botswana's neighbors, some conservationists speculate it could be providing an opening to emboldened ivory traffickers.

Poachers have targeted old bull elephants that presumably have the heaviest tusks, killing them when they go to drink at seasonal water sources, Chase said.

"A clear order has been put out for tusks of a specific weight, and I suspect such large ivory is in heavy demand, considering that there are few large tuskers left in Africa," he said.

___

Follow Christopher Torchia on Twitter at www.twitter.com/torchiachris

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP World News
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
After Rio museum fire, questions about cause, what survived
Forensic investigators and researchers await access to the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro, gutted in a fire, to find out how the blaze began and what remains of the 20 million artifacts that made the museum one of the most important in Latin America
5:35AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Powerful typhoon slams into western Japan, flooding airport
A powerful typhoon is blowing through western Japan, causing heavy rain to flood the region's main offshore international airport and high winds to blow a tanker into a connecting bridge
5:34AM ( 18 minutes ago )
Greek ferry crews debate extending two-day strike over pay
Greek island ferries are tied up in port for a second day because of a strike by crews, whose main union is debating whether to extend the walkout for another day
5:27AM ( 25 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Lewinsky storms offstage after 'off limits' Clinton question
Monica Lewinsky says she stormed offstage at a Jerusalem event because of an interviewer's "off limits" question about former President Bill Clinton
4:06AM ( 1 hour ago )
Taliban: Founder of Haqqani network dies inside Afghanistan
The Taliban say the Afghan Haqqani network founder, Jalaluddin Haqqani, an ex- U.S. ally turned fierce enemy, has died after years of ill health
12:07AM ( 5 hours ago )
Duterte calls Hitler 'insane' at Israeli Holocaust memorial
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who once compared himself to Hitler, paid a solemn visit to Israel's Holocaust memorial, branding the Nazi leader "insane" as he lamented the genocide of 6 million Jews
10:19PM ( 7 hours ago )
AP World News
After Rio museum fire, questions about cause, what survived
Forensic investigators and researchers await access to the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro, gutted in a fire, to find out how the blaze began and what remains of the 20 million artifacts that made the museum one of the most important in Latin America
5:35AM ( 17 minutes ago )
Powerful typhoon slams into western Japan, flooding airport
A powerful typhoon is blowing through western Japan, causing heavy rain to flood the region's main offshore international airport and high winds to blow a tanker into a connecting bridge
5:34AM ( 18 minutes ago )
Greek ferry crews debate extending two-day strike over pay
Greek island ferries are tied up in port for a second day because of a strike by crews, whose main union is debating whether to extend the walkout for another day
5:27AM ( 26 minutes ago )
Taliban say founder of Haqqani network dies in Afghanistan
Taliban spokesman says the founder of Afghanistan's much-feared Haqqani network, a former U.S. ally turned fierce enemy, has died after years of ill health
4:59AM ( 54 minutes ago )
Trump says Sessions' DOJ has placed GOP in midterm jeopardy
Trump tweets that federal indictments against two Republican congressmen placed the GOP in midterm election jeopardy
4:19AM ( 1 hour ago )