Elephants and humans in Africa are being drawn into a standoff over arable land due to the effects of climate change. Drylands are now the norm in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, prompting humans and elephants to fight brutally over who gets the best part of the land.
As a result, numerous fatal cases involving elephants and humans have been reported, particularly when elephants encroach on areas of human settlement from national parks and game reserves.
Although the elephant population has seen a massive decline over the past two decades, especially due to poaching, there has now been a resurgence in elephant numbers, especially in southern African countries like the Botswana and Zimbabwe, Botswana bringing back its elephant hunting trophy and Zimbabwe are embarking on a culling expedition to reduce elephant numbers. These measures have been met with skepticism by conservationists and other wildlife activists.
I spoke to Richard Prinsloo Curson, an conservationist and chairman of the South Africa-based Noah’s Ark Foundation, about this feud between elephants and humans.
“Climate change influences the mood of all animals and it has affected the migration of many species around the world and elephants are not exempt. That’s why now they go to where the food is, migrate across Africa, eat, stomp on bushes and trees as they move, so with humans taking more and more of land, the elephants are cornered and stranded, ”Curson explains.
However, it makes sense that elephants are increasingly trampling on humans, reminiscent of the phrase “a hungry man is an angry man”, which applies not only to humans but also to elephants. Curson continued:
“[The] The problem of angry elephants stems from fences, farmland, and barriers to human settlements across the African continent, which leaves elephants less freedom to move naturally through Africa and restrictions on natural behavior. the species are obviously frustrating to them. Remember that humans are only one species among thousands on earth and we have become superior to all other living things. Elephants have an incredible gift for communicating with each other miles from each other, so if some are in distress in the wild, elephants in parks and zoos can detect it and it can cause reactions.
I asked Curson if slaughter and trophy hunting was the right call to alleviate this looming crisis in the middle of the African continent.
“Slaughter is used where too many elephants take up space,” Curson explains. “An elephant needs about 100 km of bush to survive because it eats hundreds of pounds of trees and plants in a single day! Due to human developments across Africa and agricultural fencing, elephants are confined to increasingly small natural habitats. Obviously, more elephants in less space is not viable because there is not enough food for everyone. There are areas in Africa where elephants cannot be found, so in my opinion the right deed is to move the elephants and not to slaughter them. [them]. To be clear, culling is just a lazy and reckless solution as it serves to keep the numbers in sustainable areas where better solutions exist if we are willing to pay the cost. “
So what is the solution ? Curson has a pragmatic solution to this: coexistence. Humans learn to share natural resources with elephants and not keep everything to themselves.
“Humans have become an invasive species and tend to repel all animals where colonies have developed. It is possible for humans to live in peace with elephants because they are incredibly intelligent animals, but because we hurt them so much, they have learned not to trust our species. So the best way to resolve the trample wave is to give elephants back to their natural habitat and humans have to stop interfering as if we own the planet. However, this is unlikely to happen, so we have to try to deal with the situation with conservation projects. “
Image credit: Ray in Manila