How strong is Africa’s last elephant stronghold?
Newly published aerial surveys—out just weeks after the country lifted its hunting ban—indicate that poaching is on the rise in Botswana.
Botswana—widely considered a safe haven for elephants in Africa—appears to be suffering from its own surge in poaching, according to aerial survey work published today in the journal Current Biology.
“We have a significant poaching problem—let’s deal with it,” says Mike Chase, who, as the director of the Botswana-based nonprofit Elephants Without Borders, led the latest aerial survey study as well as earlier elephant counts, including the 18-country Great Elephant Census. “We were warned by conservationists in other countries that the poachers would eventually come down to Botswana, and now they’re here,” he says.
Botswana is estimated to be home to more than 130,000 savanna elephants—about a third of Africa’s remaining population. Until recently, the southern African country had