In response to both the 1989 world wide ban of trade in ivory and highly effective conservation measures, elephant populations are booming in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. There are about 140,000 in northern Botswana alone and this level is unsustainable owing to the vast quantities of food they consume and the destructive effects they have on the bush when they reach such numbers. The situation is mirrored in many parts of Southern Africa and fuels support for further lifting of the worldwide ban on trade following CITES authorised auctioning of some ivory in late 2008.
This detail shot of the skin of an African Bush Elephant in the Okavango Delta shows why the species was a member of the now obsolete mammalian order, pachydermata (Latin for ‘thick skin’). The average thickness of this animal’s skin is 2.5cm or 1 inch. The term ‘pachyderm’ is still widely used in reference to elephants, rhinoceroses and, sometimes, hippopotami.