KAZA elephants could be dying of stress - Shifeta

14 July 2020 | Environment

ILENI NANDJATO

ONDANGWA

Environment and tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta says overpopulation could be the reason for the unexplained deaths of more than 350 of elephants in the Kavango–Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA) in the past few months.

Shifeta said specimens of the dead elephants were taken but no problem was detected by laboratory analysis.

KAZA is situated in a region of Southern Africa where the borders of Namibia, Angola, Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe converge.

Shifeta, at an event in Ondangwa on Friday, said the elephant population in the area is too large, which might have caused stress that killed them .



Mysterious deaths

More than 350 elephant carcasses have been spotted in the Okavango Delta since May. So far there is no confirmation of the cause of death.

Officials in Botswana have speculated that a new disease could be the cause. The officials said they plan to release more information this week on tests done in South Africa.

But Shifeta suspects that overpopulation is the cause. He said in the KAZA area there are more than 200 000 elephants.

“It is a fact that KAZA has an overpopulation of elephants which is 10 times its carrying capacity. The elephants have destroyed everything, which makes the competition among them high,” Shifeta said.

“Stress kills more animals than diseases and that is why there are no findings,” he said.



Solution

Shifeta said since harvesting of elephants is not allowed, comprehensive research needs to be carried out to find a solution.

“There are those who are ignorant and do not want to allow harvesting of our own resources. We are saying we have overpopulation of some wildlife species and carrying capacity can no longer maintain them,” he said.

At the recent Wildlife Economy Summit held in Victoria Falls, Namibia joined Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe in demanding permission to sell off their ivory stocks.

Their request was declined.

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