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20 Jun 2021

Matthew Taylor, The Guardian

Namibia & Botswana: ReconAfrica's exploratory project threatens lives of 130,000 elephants; incl. co. comments

"New oilfield in African wilderness threatens lives of 130,000 elephants", 20 June 2021

Tens of thousands of African elephants are under threat from plans for a massive new oilfield in one of the continent’s last great wildernesses, experts have warned.

Campaigners and conservationists fear the proposed oilfield stretching across Namibia and Botswana would devastate regional ecosystems and wildlife as well as local communities.

The plans are the latest threat to elephants in the region, hundreds of which have died mysteriously in the past year. Scientists are trying to find the cause of the deaths but believe they may be linked to a rising amount of toxic algae – caused by global heating – in their waterholes.

“It is incomprehensible that ReconAfrica’s hunt for fossil fuels is going ahead,” said Rosemary Alles from Global March for Rhinos and Elephants. “Fewer than 450,000 elephants survive in Africa, down from millions not so long ago: 130,000 of these have established this region as a home range, and ReconAfrica’s misbegotten plans place them at direct risk.”...

...ReconAfrica argues that the project will bring jobs and huge economic benefits to the region without harming the environment.

“We sincerely believe that the region’s stable energy industry can be developed in an environmentally and socially responsible manner that is accountable and supports the development and delivery of much-needed economic and social benefits, as well as funding investments in local wildlife and ecological conservation,” said a company spokesperson.

They said there were “measures in place” to address noise and vibration issues, adding that they had installed solar-powered community water wells, were using water-based, biodegradable and chloride-free drilling fluids and would use low-frequency equipment to “protect wildlife communications” They would not “operate at night, when elephants typically communicate”.

“We are committed to continuing to work closely with, and under the direct oversight of, the governments in both countries, as well as their regional and traditional authorities, to ensure we continue to comply with relevant laws and regulations throughout all the stages of our operation,” they added...