Ecoexist has, through a donation from Wilderness Safaris fitted five satellite collars on elephants in the Okavango’s panhandle that will help map elephant movements and corridors in the area. This all in an effort to reduce human-elephant conflict and foster their co-existence.
Ecoexist Botswana Field and Program Director, Anna Songhurst told Times news that the collars will help to collect data on GPS locations of the elephants to help map their movements and identify corridors which need to be left free from development to help alleviate human-elephant conflict in the future.
She explained that the data will be in form of GPS locations every hour, which enable them to track an elephant’s movements throughout each day adding that such data can be used to understand daily, monthly and seasonal patterns of movement and resource use.
“So far we have captured some interesting movements of both male and female herds over the last two months and look forward to continuing to monitor movements over the coming months,” she revealed.
Wilderness Safaris Botswana Managing Director Kim Nixon explained that the donation was part of their long-term commitment to conservation in Botswana’s Okavango Delta and Linyanti environments. He added that it was also part of their commitment on working with local authorities and partners to safeguard and preserve areas of pristine wilderness and the wildlife that inhabits them.
Nixon stressed that the donation makes the work of partners such as Eco exist more crucial, while also working together with government and the local community leadership.
“We see this donation as supporting both their short- and long-term efforts. We must remember that elephants do not recognise international borders and their movements are being increasingly infringed upon by human development and land conversion as such securing safe passage along corridors is critical to enabling them to move freely between protected areas and critical resources,” he said.
Nixon said through further research and insight they can contribute to finding a sustainable, practical solution to implement that reduces conflict and fosters coexistence between elephants and humans. He stated that in areas of heightened competition for water, food, and space they hope to find and facilitate solutions that work for both species, saving lives of elephants and people.
In regards to threats facing elephants, Nixon said elephants face obstacles to their free movement in the form of fences, roads and changes to land use that impede their passage. He said by studying their movements, key micro-corridors can be identified that allow essential elephant movement, which, if further restricted, may lead to heightened conflict.
According to him, this focused research will provide some evidence and a compelling argument to consider their protection. Nixon is of the view that this will potentially also ensure that elephants have safe passage from high-density to lower-density areas, which will in turn naturally reduce the ecological effect of large elephant concentrations experienced in some areas of northern Botswana.
“We know about elephant movements in the concessions we lease, as we have strong presence on the ground. With our guides who are incredibly familiar with every curve and stretch of land in these areas, we can offer insight in this regard which may be of use”, Nixon stated.