Climate change influences elephants' migration patterns: experts

Photo: Alexander Pavskiy/Kazinform

Elephants are migrating to unpredictable areas in search of food and water as a result of climate change, experts have told an elephant conservation meeting in Gaborone, Botswana's capital, Xinhua reports. 

Speaking at the Evidence-Based Approaches to Elephant Conservation in Botswana seminar, Keoikantse Sianga, senior lecturer in wildlife management at Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, said their data clearly show that the availability of permanent water and forage influences elephant movement patterns.

During the wet season, elephants at the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in central Botswana go as far as Zimbabwe, and during the dry season, they come back to the reserve, where there are artificial water points constructed by the government to help animals with water during the dry season, he said, citing data collected by his university and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks.

"During dry seasons the elephants focus on points where there is permanent water. We see water as the key driver. Water influences the movement," Sianga said.

The animals move throughout the year in search of water and food, sometimes causing damage to property for local communities and contributing to the country's growing incidence of human-wildlife conflicts, he said.

According to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks statistics, 11,938 cases of human-wildlife conflict incidents were reported in the 2022-2023 period, compared to 11,993 in the 2023-2024 period.

Botswana has 131,909 elephants, and the country has designated 40 percent of its total land for wildlife protection.

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