In Botswana, the hunting of elephants has been reintroduced to address human-elephant conflict and to bring income to rural areas. However, there is uncertainty how hunting may affect daily lives. Elephants who have experienced a hunt are likely to become more aggressive, which could lead to further an increase of elephant damage in rural villages. Understanding behavioural changes of elephants towards humans after the return of hunting is important to avoid an increase in conflict.
Last year, the Botswana government reversed the moratorium on hunting, with hunting resuming 2020. As elephants can freely move from a hunting area onto community land, it is likely that elephants which have experienced a hunt will come into contact with rural villagers. Encounters can be dangerous for both sides and it is important to understand how hunting may influence an elephant's behaviour towards humans, to be able to advise people on how to react when encountering an elephant.
Our research on male elephants aims to decrease human-elephant conflict. We are currently collecting baseline data on the behavioural responses that elephants show upon encountering our research vehicle. During the next 12 months, we are planning to monitor any changes in individual elephants' responses as well as the population as a whole during and after the hunting season. Comparisons with our baseline data will reveal possible behavioural changes in response to humans.
Information on changes in elephant behaviour will help us update the recommendations we give to people during our 'Living with Elephants' workshops, developed to facilitate humans and elephants to live side-by-side. At the same time, the results will provide important information to be considered in the management of hunting elephants in Botswana e.g. creating low-risk areas for elephants and considering distances to local villages when developing land-use plans.
Give the gift of stability in a time of instability. Set up an automatic, monthly gift now and get matched at 100%—because the COVID-19 pandemic has hurt us all, and it will take all of us to overcome it. Terms and conditions apply.
Monthly giving is as easy, safe, and as inexpensive as a Netflix subscription. Start a monthly donation to Elephants for Africa today and get matched at 100%. Terms and conditions apply.