Angola: Elefanten haben gelernt, Minen zu vermeiden

Unzählige Elefanten starben an Unfällen mit Minen. Doch mittlerweile sind die Todeszahlen extrem gesunken. Die Dickhäuter haben offensichtlich gelernt, Minen zu erschnüffeln und zu vermeiden. (Auf Englisch)

© Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko, courtesy


ELEPHANTS had it rough during Angola’s long civil war. Rebels shot them for food and ivory that they traded for arms. When fighting ended in 2002, few elephants remained. But others have since migrated in from countries such as Botswana, where there are so many jumbos that they scarcely have room to swing a trunk.

When they first galumphed into Angola, the elephants faced an unfamiliar menace: the millions of landmines left over from the country’s decades-long conflict. José Agostinho, who works for the HALO Trust, a demining charity, recalls arriving in the south-eastern town of Mavinga in 2004 to help demine an area not much larger than 15 football pitches. On it, he saw the carcasses of three elephants killed by landmines.

Since then, however, it seems that elephants in Angola have learned to sniff out and avoid landmines, says Mr Agostinho. The number killed by them was high in the early years after the war, but it has fallen sharply, says Roland Goetz, a wildlife adviser to Angola’s government.

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