Botswana Elephants Hit Namibia Crops, Environment
KATIMA MULILO, Namibia Botswana's growing elephant population is increasingly thundering across the border into neighboring Namibia and causing havoc, an environmental development group says.
A crackdown on poaching to boost tourism and years without culling and disease have allowed Botswana's elephant population to swell to over 100,000.
The group, a Namibian organization backed by the World Wildlife Fund, says there are now too many.
"It's an enormous problem - they're damaging the environment and it's a social problem because they trample crops and people are scared of them," said conservationist Richard Diggle from the Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation program.
Herds of up to 50 elephants roam through Caprivi, a small strip of Namibian territory between Botswana, Zambia and Angola.
They destroy crops, stop children going to school and even trample some, Diggle told Reuters in the town of Katima Mulilo on the borders of Namibia, Zambia and Botswana.
The people living in Caprivi are largely dependent on subsistence farming, and the destruction of staple maize crops can be disastrous for families in a region battling a 43 percent HIV prevalence rate among adults.
Southern Africa has battled food shortages in the past several years, which health workers say has been exacerbated by a rampaging AIDS epidemic.