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Research: Survey puts Tsavo elephants population at 14,000
Date Published: 02 Apr, 2014
A team of researchers conducting independent dry season sample aerial survey in Tsavo and Amboseli ecosystems has announced an estimate of elephant population at 14,087 and 1,736 as compared to total count aerial surveys estimates of 11,076 and 1,193 respectively.
The team of researchers was drawn from Elephants Without Borders (EWB), Pan-African Aerial Survey of Elephants (PAASE) and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).
This is the first sample aerial survey of elephants and other large mammals in the Tsavo and Amboseli ecosystems since 1988.
The survey was carried out between February 26, 2014 and March 15, 2014.
The total count aerial survey for vast Tsavo/Mkomazi ecosystem was concluded on February 9, 2014 with preliminary results announced showing a decline of elephant population to about 11,000, compared to 12, 573 in the previous census in year 2011.
A similar study in October 2010 within Amboseli ecosystem recorded a total of 1,193 elephants compared to a similar dry season in October 2010 count of 1,065.
This indicates that the Tsavo elephant population in the 41,660 square kilometre ecosystem has been stable despite numerous challenges related to poaching, livestock incursions into protected areas, charcoal burning and general change in land use patterns in the dispersal areas and corridors.
While receiving the report KWS Acting Director General Mr William Kiprono at a ceremony Thursday (March 20, 2014) welcomed the findings saying that science will guide conservation agenda in the country going forward.
He welcomed the partnership that aims at building capacity of KWS staff to use best practices in estimating species population and their spatial distribution as spelt out by conservation stewardship strategic objective.
Lead researcher Michael Chase said that the survey was conducted in a technically robust manner.
“These data can now be used to evaluate the efficacy of conservation activities and trends in wildlife populations with the ability to prioritize conservation projects against any severe variations in wildlife numbers,” he said.
A small fixed wing plane was used to fly a sample survey, with stratified parallel transects spaced 2.5km, 5km and 10 km apart. The intensity of the sampling coverage was determined using elephant distribution and density from the 2014 total aerial count conducted one month prior to the sample survey
Tsavo-Mkomazi ecosystem comprises of Mkomazi in Tanzania, Tsavo West, Tsavo East, Chyulu Hills national parks, South Kitui National Reserve as well as the adjacent areas of Taita ranches and Mackinnon area in Kwale.
The Amboseli-West Kilimanjaro and Magadi -Natron cross- border landscape comprise various ecologically important areas in Kenya and Tanzania. The census covered Amboseli National Park, Namanga-Magadi areas in south-western Kenya and West Kilimanjaro and the Natron areas in North Tanzania.