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Elephants in town

Elephants in town

Signage helps to create  awareness that this is a wildlife corridor and to be sensitive to the movements of the animals
Signage helps to create awareness that this is a wildlife corridor and to be sensitive to the movements of the animals
Kelly Landen

Studying wildlife in urban areas

The communities of Kasane and Kazungula are located in close proximity to protected wildlife areas. This fact draws thousands of tourists every year to experience the exceptional and plentiful wildlife. Warthogs share the sidewalks with pedestrians, baboons rampage the streets and people’s backyards, hippos echo in the night while grazing on lodges’ lawns, and traffic halts as elephants cross the road heading to the ChobeRiver for refreshment.

Wildlife and tourism definitely provides benefits to the region. Yet humans and wildlife together in close confines can cause conflict just by having to share space and access to resources. This raises questions as to how to manage the area to ensure humans and wildlife co-exist in such a unique and special place. First, we need to understand where, when and what is moving about in the towns.

A new study by Elephants Without Borders and PhD candidate Tempe Adams from the University of New South Wales is investigating the use of wildlife corridors in and around Kasane and Kazungula. EWB is well known for its large scale transboundary research across a number of southern African countries, however it is evident that small-scale wildlife corridor use can be equally important and, in this particular case, vital for some of the wildlife in the region.

As part of the study, Tempe placed a number of motion detection cameras at strategic wildlife crossings or corridors. The cameras can detect small, elusive species such as bushbuck, warthog, civets and baboons as well as much larger wildlife such as elephant, waterbuck and buffalo. The cameras are an excellent way to provide not only a consistent record of wildlife movement but also information such as the time and ambient temperature, which may influence wildlife movement.

Thus far, in a short six month time frame, Tempe has catalogued almost 8,000 wildlife photographs covering seven different corridors that wildlife has chosen as preferred routes within the townships. The study has caught the attention of various government departments and organisations, such as Botswana Tourism Organisation, that will be using the information provided in future possible development and land-use plans. Already Chobe District Council has approved for elephant and wildlife corridor signs to be erected along roadsides to alert people to exercise caution in sensitive areas.

Read more articles from this issue:
Zambezi Traveller (Issue 13, June 2013)

Read more about the region in our destination guide:

Elephants Without Borders