Thread on why we have lodged an objection with Namibia's Environmental Commissioner regarding #ReconAfrica's planned 2D seismic surveys criss-crossing #elephant migration corridors across the Kavango regions of Namibia.…
Our objection is coupled with a plea to employ the #precautionary principle to protect the largest cross-border #elephant herd from the harmful actions linked not only to seismic surveying but also from the ongoing exploratory #oil and #gas #drilling in #Namibia.
Seismic surveys help locate oil and gas reservoirs. It takes place by laying receptors called geophones along either a line (2D) or in a grid (3D) and detonating an explosive device, then recording the various soundwaves that are picked up by the geophones. Image: RBS
Elephants also use seismic waves as a communication channel. They use fatty tissue on their feet and extremely advanced cochlea to send seismic signals to one another. These signals provide information to other herds on food, location of other herds, breeding and nearby predators
Existing research shows that seismic surveys cause disruption to #elephant communication. Elephants also avoided the areas where seismic surveys take place for close to half a year after the testing, and they shifted their daily activities to follow a nocturnal schedule.
The avoidance of surveying areas by multiple species caused wildlife to encroach on each other’s territories, disrupting normal living, feeding and breeding patterns. Displacement can also force #elephants into harm’s way and may put them at greater risk of #poaching.
Research from Murchison National Park shows that elephants’ behavioural change to nocturnal activities coupled with displacement led to more crop raiding, which has negatively affected the livelihoods of local communities and encroached upon the feeding grounds of other wildlife.
Managing #elephants in a landscape where local people and elephants coexist poses a major challenge in countries like #Namibia where elephant populations are stable or increasing because protected land often competes with different land uses.
Affected communities have already documented anecdotal accounts of changing #elephant behaviour, with elephants moving closer to homesteads and crop fields since exploratory #oil drilling began. Increased incidents of crop raiding have also been recorded

Images: Max Muyemburoko
In the absence of an elephant specialist or habitat study it is not surprising that the environmental assessment practitioner, Dr Sindila Mwiya, and ReconAfrica CEO Scott Evans would claim that there were no #elephants within the area of seismic testing and near the drill sites.
Mwiya also claimed that the seismic testing by way of slamming a hydraulic hammer into an aluminium dome to generate shockwaves of 300Hz into the ground and daytime surveying away from “elephant activities” would not interfere with their behaviour.
Without the input of #elephant experts on the impacts of the Explorer 860 seismic surveying system and an elephant habitat study, the EAP lacks the competence to make the ruling that there would be not “any frequency specific interference with the natural receiving environment”.
Existing research shows that seismic surveying has affected #elephant behaviour negatively and the long-term impacts are yet to be fully assessed in numerous African countries. We thus recommend that the precautionary principle be applied.
Savanna #elephants are specially protected species in #Namibia and the continental savanna elephant population has been reclassified as endangered by @IUCN. Human activity should not be allowed when there is uncertainty about impacts on elephants and local communities.
Until we know more about the scope and severity of the impact of seismic exploration on #elephant behaviour, health, level and retention of fear, societal bonds, communication and elephant interactions with rural people, drilling and land-clearance activities should be ceased.
Many thanks to @JeffreyBarbee for allowing us to use his beautiful photos

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