Wildlife

Travelling Elephants

A herd of wayward elephants that has mysteriously trekked about 300 miles across southern China this spring took a break to rest and to wait for an errant youngster to catch up.

State broadcaster CCTV reports that despite repeated calls from the impatient adults, the 10-year-old doesn’t appear to be in any hurry to reunite with the main group. Before the pachyderms’ respite, hundreds of trucks were dispatched to keep the 15 ambling migrants out of populated areas. Officials say they are planning to use food bait and roadblocks to help guide the herd to a new suitable habitat once it is moving again.

The elephants take a snooze during their journey.

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Wildlife

Wayward Elephants

A herd of 15 wild Asian elephants that left a Chinese nature reserve in April has destroyed crops, wrecked barns and wandered through communities as it trekked relentlessly for nearly 300 miles toward Yunnan’s provincial capital of Kunming.

No one knows why the pack of pachyderms has made the journey, but elephant expert Chen Mingyong told China’s official Xinhua news agency that the leader possibly “lacks experience and has led the whole group astray.” Officials have been tracking the animals with drones and a task force in 76 cars, and have used roadblocks and tons of food in an attempt to shift the elephants’ course.

Wildlife

Elephant Culling in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is considering the mass killing of elephants for the first tie since 1988 to reduce the 100 000 strong population.

The Government of Zimbabwe, which has the world’s second largest elephant population after Botswana, maintains that the large number of animals is leading to the destruction of habitat needed by other species and an increasing number of dangerous human-elephant interactions.

Wildlife

Botswana Elephant Death Mystery Solved

GABORONE, Sept 21 (Reuters) – Toxins in water produced by cyanobacteria killed more than 300 elephants in Botswana this year, officials said on Monday, announcing the result of an investigation into the deaths which had baffled and alarmed conservationists.

Cyanobacteria are microscopic organisms common in water and sometimes found in soil. Not all produce toxins but scientists say toxic ones are occurring more frequently as climate change drives up global temperatures.

The number of dead elephants had risen to 330, from 281 reported in July, while other animals in the Okavango Panhandle region appeared unharmed.

In neighbouring Zimbabwe, about 25 elephant carcasses were found near the country’s biggest game park and authorities suspect they succumbed to a bacterial infection.

The animals were found with tusks intact, ruling out poaching and deliberate poisoning. Parks authorities believe the elephants could have ingested the bacteria while searching for food. The carcasses were found near water sources.

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Wildlife

Elephant Deaths – Zimbabwe

Zimbabwean wildlife authorities are investigating the deaths of 12 elephants last week in a forest north of the country’s famed Hwange National Park.

Zimbabwe’s wildlife agency said on Wednesday it had discovered more elephant carcasses near a major game park, bringing the number of dead animals suspected to have been killed by a bacterial infection to 22, double the initial figure.

The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) has already ruled out poaching and cyanide poisoning for the death of elephants in Pandamasuwe Forest in western Zimbabwe, between the largest wildlife sanctuary Hwange National Park and Victoria Falls.

Zimparks spokesman Tinashe Farawo said the latest elephant carcasses were found on Tuesday and Wednesday. Most of the animals were young, with the oldest being 18 years.

The elephants, which had their tusks intact, had died in similar circumstances to those first discovered last week.

Zimbabwe is home to some 80,000 elephants, around a fifth of Africa’s total, conservationists estimate. Overall numbers have declined sharply in recent years, mostly due to a combination of poaching, illegal hunting and drought.

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Mauritius Oil Spill

The 1,000 tons of fuel oil that spilled around Mauritius from a grounded Japanese tanker in July appear to have left at least 40 dolphins dead. Dead fish, turtles, whales and crabs were also observed. Fishermen say they saw a mother dolphin using the last of her energy in a futile attempt to keep her faltering calf alive. While the country’s fisheries minister said that at first glance, the deaths didn’t appear related to the spill, local oceanographer Vassen Kauppaymuthoo told reporters the deal dolphins smelled of fuel.

Wildlife

Disco Defense

Farmers in northern Botswana may soon be protected from elephant raids on their crops by a novel technique that also keeps humans dancing around the world.

Researchers near Chobe National Park installed lines of solar-powered, multi-colored strobe lights around crops and found they repelled elephant incursions by 75% compared to areas without the lights. The disco-themed LEDs were placed on poles every 33 feet and constantly flashed a different color — red, green, amber, white, blue or yellow. The color patterns were changed every week to prevent the pachyderms from getting used to them.

Wildlife

Over 400 Botswana elephants killed in mystery mass die-off

The carcasses of more than 400 elephants have been discovered north of the Okavango Delta and nobody yet knows what’s killing them. The government appears to be dragging its heels in pursuit of answers.From the air, a dead elephant torn into by scavengers is a grisly sight. In north-east Botswana the presence of at least 400 must have been overwhelming.

The first carcass was found near Seronga on May 11 by researchers in a helicopter trying to discover why an elephant with a satellite tracker hadn’t moved for some time. What they found was shocking.

The dead elephants were dotted near natural waterholes in mopane woodland and along trails. They had collapsed on their chests, almost in mid-step, suggesting sudden death — almost what a chemical nerve poison would do.

A further eight elephants in the area appeared to be weak and lethargic, some walking with difficulty or in circles, suggesting neurological impairment. Puzzlingly, no young elephants appear to have died.

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Wildlife

Elephant Deaths Mystery in Botswana

The mystery surrounding a mass die-off of elephants in Botswana is deepening after initial test results ruled out poisoning and anthrax.

Wildlife officials had earlier ruled out poaching as no ivory had been taken. But officers have discovered more carcasses as the death toll surpasses 100.

Samples would now be sent to neighboring South Africa for further tests.

Wildlife

Elephants Die in Botswana

Officials with the Botswana Department of Wildlife and National Parks say more than 100 elephants have died in recent months and anthrax is the likely culprit. According to a Reuters report, preliminary investigations suggest the elephants are dying from anthrax while some died from the effects of drought over the past two months.

Wildlife

Botswana Reintroduces Elephant Hunting

Botswana has reintroduced elephant hunts with a cautious approach to pricing, a move that’s likely to further inflame the controversy that’s threatening a $2bn tourism industry after a five-year ban on hunting was lifted.

The government will auction licenses to hunting operators for the right to shoot 158 elephants but is yet to decide on the minimum price it will set at the sales, said Kitso Mokaila, the country’s environment minister.

There will also be a charge of 20 000 pula (about R27 000) for each of 72 elephant hunting licenses designated for foreigners, according to government documents seen by Bloomberg. That compares to at least $21 000 for the right to shoot an elephant in neighbouring Zimbabwe.

Botswana has the world’s largest elephant population, with about 130 000 of the animals roaming free nationwide.

By lifting the hunting ban, Botswana has brought itself in line with its neighbours. The number of hunting licenses are below the 400 cap it set itself, and compares with 500 licenses in Zimbabwe and 90 in Namibia. In South Africa, foreign hunters generated R1.95bn in 2017. Less than 50 elephants are shot in South Africa annually and Zambia has allocated 37 licenses for this year.

Wildlife

Zimbabwe ready to sell elephants to ‘anyone who wants wildlife’

Zimbabwe plans to sell elephants to Angola and is prepared to ship wild animals to any other interested countries as the southern African nation seeks to reduce its elephant population due to growing conflict between people and wildlife.

“We have no predetermined market for elephant sales, we are open to everyone who wants our wildlife,” tourism minister Prisca Mupfumira said in an interview on the sidelines of a wildlife summit in Victoria Falls. “`the country has ‘excess’ of 30,000 of the animals.”

“The main problem is landmines in Angola, so we are trying to assist them by having a fund to deal with those before we send the animals.”

Wildlife

Elephant Poaching in Botswana Rises

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. 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 largely escaped the scourge of elephant killings for ivory, still in high demand in China and elsewhere.

In 2014 there were no incidents of suspected elephant poaching in Botswana. But in 2018, across five areas, 156 fresh or recent carcasses whose skulls had been cut open and the tusks removed were counted. Many of the carcasses were hidden under bushes, suggesting, that those animals were victims of the illegal ivory trade.

Zero elephants poached in a year in Northern Mozambique Park

One of Africa’s largest wildlife preserves is marking a year without a single elephant found killed by poachers, which experts call an extraordinary development in an area larger than Switzerland where thousands of the animals have been slaughtered in recent years.

The apparent turnaround in Niassa reserve in a remote region of northern Mozambique comes after the introduction of a rapid intervention police force and more assertive patrolling and response by air, according to the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society, which manages the reserve with Mozambique’s government and several other partners.

Aggressive poaching over the years had cut the number of Niassa’s elephants from about 12,000 to little over 3,600 in 2016, according to an aerial survey. Anti-poaching strategies from 2015 to 2017 reduced the number killed but the conservation group called the rate still far too high.

Following the new interventions, the last time an elephant in the Niassa reserve was recorded killed by a poacher was May 17, 2018.

Although the low number of remaining elephants is also a factor in the decline in poaching, a year ago, it was estimated that fewer than 2,000 elephants remained in Niassa, now preliminary analysis of data from a survey conducted in October and not yet published indicated that about 4,000 elephants are in the reserve.

A year that appears to be free of elephant poaching in the sprawling reserve drew exclamations from some wildlife experts. “It is a major and very important development that poaching has ceased. This represents a major success.”

Wildlife

Botswana Lifts Ban on Hunting Elephants

Botswana, which has the world’s biggest population of elephants, lifted its suspension on hunting, a move that is likely to spark further debate on a politically charged issue in the southern African nation.

The government would ensure that “reinstatement of hunting is done in an orderly and ethical manner” and in accordance with the law and regulations, the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism said in emailed statement Wednesday.

The number of elephants in Botswana has almost tripled to 160,000 since 1991, increasing conflict between farmers and the animals, which at times destroy crops and kill villagers.

Critics, including former President Ian Khama, say the drive is politically motivated, being geared to win rural votes in an October election and could damage tourism, which accounts for a fifth of the economy.

Wildlife

Botswana Considers Culling Elephants

People living on the outskirts of Botswana’s game parks are anxiously waiting to see if the government is going to do anything to stop roaming wildlife from killing villagers and eating and destroying their crops.

The government is in the process of debating whether to cull elephants, revoke the 2014 ban on hunting or try to keep the wildlife off villagers’ land.

Communities living on the outskirts of fence-less, state-owned parks and forest reserves say their lives are proof that wild animals cannot coexist harmoniously with human beings.

Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi appears to be sympathetic to the plight of these communities who are attacked and killed by wild animals and whose crops are eaten and destroyed.

Culling and hunting options have sparked widespread opposition and criticism from animal rights groups and conservationists.

In what appears to be a political crusade to justify culling and hunting as options, the Botswana government has said:

– 25 people have been killed by elephants between 2009 and this year so far;

– Botswana has an elephant population of 130 000 against its carrying capacity of 54 000;

– More than 70% of the elephant population lived outside their designated areas.

Wildlife

Elephant Rescue

Six baby elephants separated from their parents and trapped in a muddy pit for days have been rescued by park rangers in rural Thailand.

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