The largest population of elephants on the planet lives in northern Botswana. By recent estimates, close to 130,000 elephants roam freely through the region’s maze of waterways, mopane forests, reed beds, and grasslands.
Botswana is the land of elephants. With a population of close to 130,000 elephants, the country claims the largest free-roaming population on the planet.
Thousands more live in regions bordering Botswana, in Angola, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, across an area of 440,000 square kilometers known as the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA).
Elephants needs are similar to humans: they too require space, food and water.
The Okavango Delta Panhandle area is particularly important to elephants. The elephants here move between dry land resources in the north and west, to the Okavango River and Delta wetlands to access water and other resources.
Some of these elephants show transboundary movements into Namibia, Zambia and Angola through Wildlife Dispersal Areas: large movement corridors that are key for wildlife connectivity across the region and the success of the KAZA TFCA landscape. Others prefer to stay within the confines of the Okavango Panhandle, which offers them everything they need to thrive.
We have been researching and monitoring the elephant population here for the past 15 years. The results of this research is shared with relevant stakeholders to inform policy and management decisions, identify and officially recognise elephant movement corridors, help in the design of human-elephant conflict management strategies and, provide evidence on the impacts of fences and other potential barriers to elephant movement and connectivity.
Our research findings provide clear rationale for careful land use planning and policies that recognize elephant pathways as protected habitats and enable farmers to plant fields in areas that can be better protected from elephants. However, we continue to gather data to help us gain a greater understanding of how both people and elephants use the landscape, behaviour patterns and changes, and land and resource needs, both current and projected, in order to promote coexistence.
See Who we are and Resources as well as our Social Media links to see further information on our research team and their findings.