To humans, the elephant is one of the most unique and endearing members of the animal kingdom. They exhibit many characteristics we find relatable – grief, curiosity, memory. The habitat of the African bush elephant, the most common variety, once stretched across sub-Saharan Africa, but today it is limited to pockets, mostly on protected land. Botswana is home to nearly a third of the continent’s elephants, thanks in part to strict anti-poaching policies that allow its army to kill poachers on sight. The greatest concentration of Botswana’s elephants is found in Chobe National Park, along the border with Zimbabwe and Namibia.
Elephants Without Borders is a charity that focuses on researching elephant populations in Botswana and advocating for their protection. Based in the town of Kasane, it is run by Mike Chase, whose family has lived in Botswana for five generations. The organization conducts the only aerial survey and census of elephants in the country, and its latest found nearly 130,000. EWB’s surveys have also found evidence of increasing numbers of poached elephants, and the release of those numbers has caused friction with Botswana’s government, which has questioned their findings, though without providing their own evidence.