May 22nd is International Biodiversity Day.
In the past 50 years, 67% of wild animals have become extinct and only 3% of our ecosystems remain intact.
We are in an Ecological and Climate Emergency, and we must take action. Right now, Canadian oil company ReconAfrica is drilling test wells in the Okavango Delta, a precious ecosystem home to many endangered animals, including Africa’s last great herd of elephants. Time’s up for oil, or else our animals, you and I will boil.
What comes to mind when you think about the Kavango Region, a pristine ecosystem that covers an area larger than Belgium across Namibia and Botswana? Is it the breathtaking scenery of this UNESCO World Heritage Sight? Image of elephants walking along the plains? The golden glow of the setting sun reflected in the water of the Okavango Delta?
What probably doesn’t come to mind is oil drilling, fracking and newly built roads. But this is what is happening. ReconAfrica, a Canadian oil company, has been granted oil exploration licenses by the governments of Namibia and Botswana. Short-term financial gain has been prioritized once more, and if this project goes ahead, it will have catastrophic impacts to the region, and to our world.
It comes as no surprise that oil drilling and fracking will devastate animal populations in the region. The Delta is a key migratory pathway for Africa’s largest remaining population of 18,000 savanna elephants. Studies have been conducted that show the negative impact of seismic activity on elephant behavioural patterns and migratory movements. Savanna elephants were placed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of endangered animals last March- this is a population we need to be doing everything we can to protect, not to further threaten. The roads that will be constructed in the region will increase accessibility, meaning it is likely that poaching activities will increase. Once again, this is pressure that the rapidly reducing elephant population cannot withstand.
Elephants are highly intelligent and self-aware animals, with studies showing that they mourn their dead. We must take action to protect these animals now before it is too late.
If you have been lucky enough to visit the Okavango Delta, you will understand why it is so important to protect this region. Ecotourism is a key contributor to the GDPs of Botswana and Namibia, and local populations have built their livelihoods around supporting tourists to experience the magic of the region.
See Release below for more info.
ReconAfrica’s hunt for fossil fuels in the Kavango Basin threatens Africa’s largest remaining population of savanna elephants with extinction
The Canadian company is currently drilling test wells in a region representing a key migratory corridor for an estimated 18,000 elephants; these elephants form a significant portion of a full third of Africa’s last elephants- the 130,000 who call Botswana home