Hwange National Park Elephant Overpopulation

I have taken an interest in Hwange National Park’s Elephants. The Park is extremely overpopulated. Using the table below (@ 15% biomass) as a guide, I did some basic calculations.

Hwange size: 1 460 000ha
Elephant population estimate: 54 000

Since the table only goes up to 45 000, I have to divide 1 460 000 by 45 000 (1 460 000÷ 45 000= 32.44)

Next step, some sources have Hwange National Park’s average annual rainfall at 560mm.

Let us take an average 600mm. Following the table that would be: 150×32.44= 4866 elephants @ 15% Large Herbivore biomass. If one would want the elephants to take up 45% of the large herbivore biomass, it would be:
450×32.44= 14 598 Elephants.

If one would take drought conditions into consideration it would be 112×32.44 = 3633 Elephants @15% Large Herbivore biomass. @ 45% Large Herbivore biomass it would be 336×32.44 = 10 900 Elephants.

It is thus imperative that the Elephant population in Hwange should be maintained @ between 10 000 and 15 000. However, much damage has already been done, it might be required to bring the population down to 15% Large Herbivore Biomass, i.e. around 5000 Elephants.

Let me for sake of argument calculate the number of Elephants in Hwange @ 100% Large Herbivore Biomass in optimal conditions:
150×6.6= 990
990×32.44= 32 116 (rounded)

Let that sink in. Hwange National Park has an estimated 54 000 Elephants! A catastrophic wildlife population crash is a very real possibility!

Author: Jan-Albert Viljoen. Environmental Manager.

Source (table):
Bothma, J.Du. P and Du Toit J.G. 2010. Game Ranch Management. Fith Edition. p.250

2 thoughts on “Hwange National Park Elephant Overpopulation

  • January 11, 2018 at 4:47 pm

    Why can’t it be less expensive yo hunt them?

    • January 11, 2018 at 9:11 pm

      Dear William
      I do not quite understand the comment. The post deals with an overpopulation, not a financial burden. I doubt if safari hunting alone with foreign clients would reduce the elephant population enough to remedy the situation. There is currently a moratorium on the export of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe to the USA which has by far the largest trophy hunting client base. What needs to happen is that the US must allow the importation of ivory from legally hunted elephants and a well-planned culling operation needs to take place also. Funds generated from trophy hunting are essential for the conservation efforts of numerous countries, including Zimbabwe.
      Jan-Albert Viljoen


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