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Gaborone Deals with the Elephant in the Room

Botswana may have found a solution to its elephant overpopulation: it’s going to encourage some of them to leave the country. Botswana’s tourism industry, which accounts for a fifth of the economy, is heavily reliant on the world’s biggest elephant population, but the animals have become a political issue as there are too many of them and they destroy crops and occasionally trample villagers. Now, elephants are beginning to migrate into neighbouring Angola and the governments of both countries are helping them do so by removing landmines left over from Angola’s civil war and tearing down fences. Botswana’s 135,000 elephants mostly live in a 520,000km2 area known as the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, which spans five countries and is home to almost half the world’s African elephants. Angola’s elephants were pushed across the border by a decades-long civil war that ended in 2002. Illegal hunting elsewhere has also boosted Botswana’s elephant population. Before the war, Angola had about 100,000 elephants, compared to less than 10,000 today, according to researchers.