The Gourma and the elephants there
The Gourma elephants are a desert-adapted species of African elephants (Loxodonta africana) and frequently endure sand storms, water shortages, and temperatures over 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit). A severe drought in 2009 dried out Lake Banzena completely, depriving the elephants of one of their key watering points.
Currently there is little human settlement in the area but if that changes the elephants may become isolated from key parts of their range. The Gourma elephants have historically enjoyed relatively peaceful coexistence with the local Touareg, Fuhlani and Dogon peoples. Until recently these groups mainly practiced pastoralism but are now beginning to settle and turning to agriculture. Conflict between humans and elephants is increasing as a result.
Hunting by man and climatic changes has reduced their numbers and range considerably. Today there are estimated to be around 350 remaining individuals.
The Gourma elephants are believed to be the most northerly population of elephants in Africa since the loss of the Atlas Mountains population in the 1970’s, and are remnants of a much larger population that once extended across the entire north of Africa.