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Elephants can trace their ancestry back to around 55m years ago, while we humans can trace ours back to less than 6m, according to scientists – so they were undoubtedly here first! Over time, wildlife and people have had to adapt to living together and as our population has grown, sometimes in closer proximity than we would both like.

The World Wildlife Fund estimated that in the 1930s there would have been close to 10m elephants roaming around the continent. Today, it is estimated that there are 415,000. Poaching, climate change and land conflict with human expansion and settlement are the main contributors to their decline in population.

Whilst Botswana heads the league table in numbers – approximately 130,000 – Zimbabwe follows in second place with around 100,000 elephants and according to conservationists, almost half live in the Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe’s largest natural reserve.

Zimbabwe has seen an increase in its elephant population of close to 20% in less than a decade due to its robust and successful conservation measures, but in a country where ecologists say there is a habitat capacity for around only 45,000 in total, this is becoming a sensitive issue.

In 2021, it was reported that 72 people had been killed by elephants in the country. By May 2022 this


year, there were already reports of 60 people being killed and 50 injured. With the dry season arriving, the majestic herds will wander further to find food and water, and more deadly encounters with an ever-growing rural population are bound to occur.

The government is now seriously looking at how it can effectively manage and reduce the elephants’ proliferation. Ideas on the table are to re-issue the emotive hunting licences as Botswana did in 2019 or begin a contraceptive programme.

With Zimbabwe’s population growing at 1.5% a year on average, a solution enabling man and beast to live in harmony is vital. Watch this space.

Time-travel to Meroë pyramids

While the pyramids in Egypt have been a global attraction for hundreds of years, the pyramids of Meroë in Sudan are far less known outside the country but are no less interesting than their Egyptian counterparts.

Now, thanks to Google you can explore these pyramids, which are on the UNESCO World Heritage site, using Google Arts & Culture, without moving from your seat anywhere in the world. The 200 pyramids are remnants of what was once a great civilisation, the Kushite Kingdom, circa the 8th century BC, which ruled the lands of Nubia for over 3,000 years.

The Google tool allows you to roam around the various pyramids and even enter some of them. You can marvel at the artefacts on display while learning a great deal about this ancient kingdom.

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