GABORONE, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- Botswana saw a significant increase in elephant population between 1992 and 2012, while other animal species are either on decline or showing stagnation, a latest released aerial survey showed.
According to the official Botswana Press Agency on Tuesday, a study titled Aerial Census of Animals in Botswana/Dry Season 2012 has made observations on 26 animal species including wild animals like buffalo, eland, elephant, gemsbok, giraffe, zebra, etc., and livestock like cattle, donkey, horse, sheep and goats.
Deputy director in the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Cyril Taolo was quoted as saying that the national elephant population stands at 207,545, "which is a 297 percent change between 1992 and 2012." Elephants are concentrated in the north and central parts of the country.
Taolo said with such a big population of elephants, the country needs to manage them carefully and monitor their impact on the environment as they pose a threat not only to the environment, but other species of animals and human life.
The Botswana's government announced in 2012 that the country will ban commercial hunting from January 2014 over growing concerns about the sharp decline in wildlife species. The ban raised concerns and some people feared it might cause the population of wildlife such as elephants to grow at uncontrollable rates. There are reports that in communities that live around the elephants there is a question of wildlife-human conflict as elephants kill people and destroy crops.
Taolo brushed aside the concerns saying that hunting was not banned to manage elephant population, but to benefit communities who live within wildlife areas.
"As an example, we issued licences for 400 elephants per annum, how much of a difference would that have on 200,000 plus elephants, " he said.
An elephant migration plan where a conducive environment is created in neighboring countries to lure the elephants to cross over is one method that can be explored to manage elephants, he said.
He added that the hunting ban was only temporary to monitor the decline of certain animal species.
According to the survey, there were upward trends for all other species except lechwe, sable, sitatunga, springbok and tsessebe.
The species that raised concerns include lechwe whose number declined by 59 percent between 1992 and 2012 while the population of springbok and tsessebe declined by 71 percent and 79 percent respectively for the same period.
"An appropriate management response is therefore warranted and this will include further research to understand the reasons behind observed downward trends, improved monitoring of wildlife resources in community areas and concessions, improved law enforcement and strengthening of the gains of community based natural resources management," said the survey.
Compared to wildlife, livestock numbers were high throughout the surveyed area and some observations were made inside Wildlife Management Areas. In particular, cattle were estimated at 3.14 million which was more than all the wildlife numbers combined. The cattle population also represented an increase of 322 percent between 1992 and 2012.