Picture this: You live in a village in Botswana, Africa. You leave home one morning and start walking to school. Suddenly, a gigantic elephant is standing in your path.
“It’s really scary to come across an elephant when you’re on foot,” Kate Evans told TIME for Kids. Evans is the founder of Elephants for Africa (EFA). The group is based in Botswana. It works to protect elephants from poaching. Poaching means illegally capturing or killing an animal.
Sharing the Land
Elephants have long found safety in Botswana. That’s because much of the land there is protected. It is illegal to hunt elephants on protected land. In recent years, more elephants have migrated to Botswana. Today, around 130,000 of them roam the land.
But the elephants wander onto farms. They eat and trample crops. They’ve hurt and killed people, too. Some farmers respond by killing the elephants. “The biggest threat to elephants in Botswana is conflict with humans,” Evans says. “One-third of the elephant population is coming into contact with people.”
EFA’s goal is to help people and elephants live peacefully together. It keeps track of where the elephants go. The group takes schoolkids on trips to learn about the mammals, too.
Walona Sehularo works for EFA. He teaches kids that elephants shouldn’t be feared. “Many in my country think ‘Why should I care about the animals?’” he told TFK. “But the only way things get better is if people care.”
Elephants shape the environment. They trample grass. They knock down trees. They trudge through bushes. This traffic creates pathways for smaller animals. Plus, elephants spread seeds around as they roam. That helps new plants grow.
Elephants even help other animals find water. An elephant uses its tusks to dig in the ground for water. This gives other creatures a place to drink.