Hello from the beautiful South Africa! The first few days have been hectic but wonderful. We’ve been busy getting to know the park, learning about current research projects, and of course meeting the elephants.
A significant problem in South Africa is the human-elephant conflict. As the country expands, the natural habitat of the African Elephant is being destroyed. Human and elephants are living much closer together and sharing resources that weren’t being shared before.
Knysna, where the park is located, is a town in the western cape of South Africa. In the past, Knysna was covered with expansive forests. These forests were home to a large population of African elephants. With the arrival of colonists, the population began to decline. By 1915, only 16 elephants remained in the Knysna forests. Currently, it is unknown how many elephants remain wild within Knysna. They are somewhat of an urban legend around here! They are very rarely seen in the wild, making it challenging to survey the number still remaining.
The human-elephant conflict has been present for much longer than most people think. It’s crazy to think that the elephants I am here with today, feeding and studying, were almost extinct 100 years ago. Hearing the history of Knysna today made me realize how serious this problem is. Knysna was once home to thousands of elephants, and now it is nearly impossible to re-home an adult bull within Knysna due to space and protection issues. These beautiful creatures deserve a chance to live without us without the fear of being killed.
Who could hurt this beauty?