KARE 11's Sven Sundgaard went to Namibia to learn more about Black rhino conservation efforts of the Minnesota Zoo. Here is more from Sven on the elephants in Namibia.
While the main focus of my explorations in Namibia were the endangered black rhino, there were other animals to be found who are also in trouble. I had the rare opportunity to follow a herd of desert elephants on the move, too.
Johann Cloete, a guide from Desert Rhino Camp, took us out to try to find some wildlife.
"So what we’re looking at, since we found tracks a little upstream of the elephants, we have been following them down here to a spring called ‘Mein Jakob,’" he said. "So what we’re going to do is speed up a little more and close distance between us. “
You can’t make this up. Just before sunset, we literally have minutes of daylight left, we finally found the elephants that Johann had been tracking here for several hours. He was able to tell with each footprint, each piece of dung, where the elephants are headed.
They’re following this riverbed where there is some vegetation and natural springs along the way. The desert elephant covers huge distances in a day because they that all important water and vegetation which is lacking here compared to other parts of Africa.
In fact, that’s why desert elephants have more broken tusks than their counter parts that live in more vegetation/water rich areas of Africa. They have to poke around and dig more.
While Johann often knows some of the wildlife in his area, he didn’t recognize six of the elephants this day but did recognize what appeared to be a matriarch with a broken tusk, keeping a close eye and ear open.
This year a major census of African elephants found the population down 30 percent, with an annual drop of 8 percent or 27,000 elephants killed each year by poaching for their ivory tusks, and habitat destruction. Namibia, once again is a somewhat bright spot in Africa with vigorous conservation efforts compared to the rest of Africa.
Here’s a link to this year’s Elephant census.