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Written by Amarula Trust

The Amarula Trust is funding a new project to protect elephants. The latest initiative focuses on ways to manage the competition for scarce resources between elephants and people in Botswana.

The Amarula Trust has made African elephants a major thrust of its conservation efforts because they have such a close association with marula fruit, the source of both Amarula Cream and Amarula Gold.

Adèle Ankiewicz, international spokesperson for the not-for-profit Amarula Trust says: “Elephants absolutely love the marula fruit that grows wild in sub-Saharan Africa.  Luckily the fruit is plentiful, with each female tree producing a crop of between 500 kgs and 2 tons, so there is more than enough to share. The trees are also protected, which means they can’t be cut down, ensuring a sustainable supply.”

The project being funded by the Amarula Trust involves collaring elephants in the eastern Okavango Panhandle, part of the delta, in Botswana, to better understand their movements, herd dynamics and feeding patterns. It is being run by an NGO called Ecoexist.

As humans take over more and more of the land where elephants range, the likelihood for conflict between people and elephants escalates.

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Written by Olga Kutchment

In April, a helicopter carrying a College of Agriculture and Life Sciences researcher and her collaborators hovered over an elephant herd in northern Botswana. A veterinarian tranquilized an elephant from the air. The team descended, checked that the animal was sleeping comfortably, and placed a collar the size of a hula-hoop around its neck. The collar will transmit the elephant’s GPS coordinates every hour for the next four years.

The team found this particular elephant near an agricultural region between the Okavango River Delta and the Kalahari Desert. Roughly 15,000 elephants walk through the area regularly: Botswana has the largest population of wild elephants in the world. While outsiders marvel at the elephants, locals can face enormous problems when the animals trample and raid crops. Clashes between elephants and farmers have ended in bloodshed on both sides.

The researchers want to help diffuse the conflict in this region.

“What makes our five-year program unique is the holistic approach that we are taking,” said Dr. Amanda Stronza, associate professor in the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences. Stronza, an anthropologist, is one of three co-directors of the program Ecoexist.

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