By Nicole Rojas – Change.org
On September 3rd 2018, 87 elephant carcasses were found near the Okavango Delta wildlife sanctuary in Botswana. This is an unprecedented massacre considering Botswana had been recognized as one of the formidable defenders and conservationists of wildlife in Africa.
Botswana is home to approximately 130,000 elephants. Due to its steadfast conservation, elephants from other countries were crossing the borders into Botswana for safety.
However, in 2018, an anti-poaching unit (APU) was removed from the country’s borders and the anti-poaching unit team’s weapons were confiscated. If there was an increased presence of APUs, this killing spree of elephants could have been thwarted successfully.
In 2019, the moratorium on elephant hunting was lifted and less than 400 permits would be issued per year.
In April, 2022, two “big tuskers” were killed by trophy hunters. As elephant populations globally are already being threatened, the repercussions from the loss of these two big tuskers will be noticeable because older male elephants generally father most calves.
The loss of these “big tuskers” will disrupt reproduction rates, among the myriad of other factors that threaten their species like poaching, human-elephant conflict, habitat fragmentation, and climate change.
Each year approximately 35,000 elephants are killed in Africa.
If their population continues to decline, ecosystems will be affected.
On a global scale, we are experiencing massive climate change.
Elephants are part of the SOLUTION to climate change. Their mighty presence as a keystone species helps with carbon sequestration. According to a BBC report, the African elephant can sequester up to 9,5000 metric tons per year which is equivalent to emissions from over 2,000 cars.
Let us not forgot, elephants are worth more alive than dead. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council in 2017, 74% of travel to Botswana was by tourists compared to business travel. Monies generated by tourists was 686.6 million USD or 7,119.6 million BWP (Botswana Pula) and this contributed to 26,000 jobs for 2017. The obvious reason tourists travel to Botswana is to see wildlife. If the number of wildlife continue to diminish, this in effect can lead to a loss of revenue and jobs, affecting the economy as a whole.
The presence of elephants in the delicate ecosystem is undeniably paramount in not only supporting other wildlife but for the people who live in Africa as well. Elephants in the wild aide in generating tourism dollars which fuels the economy that then helps to feed the hungry, finance education programs, and enable health-care programs that save lives.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi and the government of Botswana, your gravitas and solemnity are being beckoned by the world for you to restore the anti-poaching unit and end elephant hunting. Every life counts. Every life is interconnected.