By Paul Steyn
Botswana has some of the last remaining free-roaming populations of wild animals on the planet.
Massive breeding herds of elephants are known to move thousands of kilometres across the country’s wild lands, through private farms, national parks, towns and deep into neighbouring countries too. It’s a picture of Africa that one reads about in the history books.
The town of Kasane borders the Chobe National Park in the North of Botswana, and regularly sees all kinds of wildlife pass through, including lion, buffalo, hyena and even the rare sable antelope. This is one of the few places where human infrastructure still grows within these functioning ancient wildlife home ranges
As human populations develop and pressure grows on the environment, it’s natural to presume that wildlife will get squeezed into closed-off parks and reserves such as has happened all around the world over the last century. Right?
The team at Elephants Without Borders are researching the use of wildlife corridors to reduce human/wildlife conflict in Northern Botswana, where one of the largest populations of elephants in Africa still remains. Using Kasane as the base for these studies, the organisation has set up ‘urban corridors’ and are now monitoring the movement of animals through the town and neighbouring farms.
“When you think of wildlife corridors, everyone thinks the big trans-boundary movements,” says Tempe Adams, a lead researcher on the team, “I’m trying to re-define the idea of a wildlife corridor.”
“It’s amazing when I take people to see the corridors – they can’t imagine that the elephants actually use them. But I assure them that they absolutely do. I use detection cameras to monitor the movement. A lot of the corridors I’m looking at, people would not class them as a corridor, but when I actually show them the photos of usage they say: ‘that’s incredible.’ I’m yet to show someone who is not surprised by the amount of wildlife that comes into town. And they don’t even know about it. A lot of these corridors are not even known to local people.’
It seems corridors could be important to the movement of wildlife on a much broader scale in Africa. The Chobe National Park is at the centre of what could be the world’s largest conservation area. More....