The Okavango Delta in Botswana may have as many as 200,000 elephants, and the number grows each year as the newborns join the matriarchal breeding herds.
Their long lifespan (about the same as humans) and reproduction every 3-4 years with little predation on the young ensures a steadily growing population. However, too many elephants in a limited space is a recipe for environmental change that might not be compatible with other wildlife.
Elephants eat a lot! And they are very inefficient in their digestion, excreting 60% of the biomass they take in. While their poo might make good fertilizer, or fuel for human use, there is very little natural degradation of elephant waste at this time of year, and it sits around for months in big piles. To meet their daily energy needs, they eat everything in sight, and this time of year when there is little green grass, they resort to eating twigs, branches, bark, and what fruit might be lying on the ground.
if those elements are in short supply, they push trees over in order to get at the leafy branches and fruit at the top of the tree. Consequently the woodland starts to look like a war zone with downed trees and branches.
Although numbers of African elephants are in decline throughout most of their range, the opposite is true of their populations in their confined park environments where they have a powerful impact on other wildlife. How many elephants are too many?