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Botswana: Reported rise in elephant poaching calls into question loosened rules, possible end to ban

CHOBE NATIONAL PARK, Botswana — The strong aroma of sage fills the air as we travel along the Linyanti River in northern Botswana, near the border with Namibia. We cross the tracks of a honey badger, and in the distance hear the yelping of a pack of African wild dogs in pursuit of an impala. The Linyanti River and adjacent swamps eventually feed into the Chobe River and Chobe National Park. Here, the area is renowned for another, more iconic species: the African savanna elephant, also known as the African bush elephant (Loxodonta africana). Enormous herds constitute one of the last continuous populations on the continent. They migrate 200 kilometers (120 miles) up and down the river system, congregating en masse during the dry season on the Linyanti and Chobe rivers.

Savanna elephant numbers are stable in Linyanti and Chobe, currently around 80,000, where most of the region is protected by national parks and private concessions. In all, Botswana is home to 130,000 elephants, Africa’s biggest population of the pachyderms, which in some areas is even growing.

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