As a consequence of all this past MIS-management, the elephants of Botswana have grown in number every year for the last 60 years. And during the height of every dry season – August/ September/October/early-November – they have annually eaten out all edible grass and palatable woody plants within 25 kms of the dry season waterholes.
And I mean they have eaten the edible vegetation FLAT – into extinction. Huge numbers of large top-canopy trees have been wiped out (including whole groves of ancient baobab trees – some over 5000 years old); many favourite-food tree species have been eaten into extinction; and entire ecosystems (for example, riverine forests; and deciduous Acacia/Combretum woodlands) have completely disappeared – leaving behind exposed Kalahari sand-soil and little else.
And, in the teak forests (which elephants don’t fancy eating) they have demolished the understory plant communities in their entirety.
Under these conditions, as the dry season advances every year, the elephants find it harder and harder to find enough food to stay alive; and as each dry season month passes, they get thinner and thinner.
Lactating mothers are the worst affected. And as their milk dries up so their baby calves (which are dependent on mother’s milk for survival during their first three years of life) are abandoned.
They are abandoned because, without their mother’s milk, the babies do not have the energy to walk the (x2) 25 km journey, with their mothers – from the water, to the herd’s food supply, and back to the water again – each day.
These baby elephants die of starvation, of thirst and/or of heat fatigue; or in the absence of their mothers, they killed and eaten by lions and hyenas.
Extract from “About The Culling Of Elephants In Botswana”
- Priorities of Conservation
- Habitat Carrying Capacity – Elephant Management