In Africa, the "elephant wars" of the Seventies and Eighties saw elephant
populations decimated by poaching and the trade in ivory. Now, control of the
ivory trade has meant that the decline in elephant numbers has been reversed. Yet
this has created a new conflict – elephants and humans live side by side in the
deserts of Namibia, competing for vital food and water.
In the seventh Saving Planet Earth celebrity expedition, Jack Osbourne takes up
the desert challenge to see what is being done to stop a second elephant war from
Travelling through the desert, Jack cannot help but fall in love with the
elephants. He comments: "Like in a zoo, they seem tame. You want to run and give
them a big hug."
However, these wild animals can be far from gentle. He sees the destruction they
have wrought on a local water supply, crushing a water storage tank.
For the local people, incidents such as this mean that their relationship with
the elephants is far from loving.
For Jack, this view is difficult to reconcile with his own feelings: "It's a
strange position to be in right now because we come from the West, and we're told
these elephants are amazing, great, fantastic creatures, and we protect them. But
when you come to a place where they roam free, for the most part what we've been
told is they're basically giant rats – just destructive machines."
Garth Owen-Smith is working to unite the locals and the elephants with
community-based conservation via Integrated Rural Development & Nature
Conservation (IRDNC). Once, locals used to hunt elephants; now, they protect
A £10 donation to the BBC Wildlife Fund could help Integrated Rural Development &
Nature Conservation pay the salary of a community game guard for one week.
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