Elephants are a significant aspect of Botswana’s natural capital and are undeniable actors in its ecosystem. Its critical role in the country’s wildlife has made it a popular luxury safari destination.
Botswana received about 2.5 million foreign tourists between 2018/2019 who came ready to photograph elephants. Making the tourism sector generate foreign earnings after diamond mining.
But lately, over 300 elephants have died due to toxic water pollution caused by Cyanobacteria. According to a report, the cause became known following findings from months of tests in specialist laboratories in South Africa, Canada, Zimbabwe and the US. Nevertheless, scientists have warned that climate change may be making these incidents more likely, as they favour warm water.
According to a statement by Mmadi Reuben, the Principal Veterinary Officer of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, the deaths stopped towards the end of June 2020, coinciding with the drying of (water) pans.
In 2018, Botswana’s tourism sector experienced a growth that was higher than the Sub-Saharan African average of 3.3 percent. This was reported to have generated about $2.52 billion to its economy. The tourism sector also provided at least 84,000 jobs for people. Approximately, the sector accounts for about 8.9 percent of the country’s total employment.
Over the past decade, Botswana became a safe haven for a third of Africa’s elephants. It has an estimated number of over 130,000 elephants. The growth in their numbers was triggered by migration from neighbouring Namibia, Zimbabwe and Angola due to illegal activities of poachers.