Monday, 2 June 2014

Namibia set to kill a third of remaining desert bull elephants

Posted by: Sally Coulson / posted on May 28th, 2014

There are growing fears that Namibia is about to sell off hunting rights to a third of the remaining adult bull desert elephants in the country. With an estimated population of just over 100 elephants and just 18 of those being adult males the loss of a third of the breeding males would be devastating for the long-term viability of the famous desert elephants of Namibia.

Living in harsh conditions such as the desert has forced this population of elephants to learn new techniques to survive and this has been passed down through the generations. As the population grows smaller and the mature adults are killed the ability for the herd to maintain it’s knowledge in living in these highly stressful conditions diminishes.

While the Namibian government claims that the population is strong at over 500 elephants local conservationists believe the actual numbers are around 100 elephants. Of far more concern is the ratio between males and females. Previous hunting and poaching has reduced the breeding bull elephants to such an extent that there is now 13 females for every male elephant. This ration will grow even larger if 6 more mature bull elephants are killed in the prosed hunt later this year.

Desert living elephants are a rare group of elephants. While they are not genetically distinct from other African plains elephants they have a special herd knowledge that allows them to survive I the harsh conditions of the desert. Apart from the Namibian population the only other group of elephants with this specialist knowledge and skills can be found in Mali.

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