Increase in elephant populations in the Mara Serengeti ecosystem clouded by worrying poaching signs outside protected areas

Posted on 02 September 2014    
© Michael Poliza
A recent aerial survey shows an increase from 2,058 elephants in 1986 to 7,535 in 2014 in the world famous Mara-Serengeti ecosystem that straddles the Kenya/Tanzania border in East Africa.

Tanzania's Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism released the wet season Serengeti-Mara aerial census report and called for close collaboration between the two countries to combat poaching and illegal wildlife trade in the region.

A total of 192 elephant carcasses were counted during the survey, of which 117 were in Kenya and 75 in Tanzania. The ratio of carcasses to live elephants was 2.5%, which is well within the normal range of 2-8% of what a stable or increasing elephant population would exhibit in this kind of survey.

Despite the positive results of the aerial survey with reference to an increase in Elephant numbers, conservationist remain worried by the fact that 84 % of the carcases found in Kenya were outside the Masai Mara National Reserve and had missing tusks. This shows that elephants outside protected areas could be under poaching pressure.

The conservation fraternity in Kenya and Tanzania are subsequently calling upon the two governments to strengthen their elephant management strategies as well as deploy technology in the fight against poaching. Furthermore, the conservationists are calling for better management of elephants outside protected areas through strengthened community conservancies.

The two governments are keen to work with conservationists to find lasting solutions to the challenges facing endangered species that include not only the elephant but also the rhino.

Conservation organizations such as WWF are working with governments in seeking solutions to the current poaching menace by acquiring anti-poaching equipment and technology, engaging communities and private sector in anti-poaching campaigns, carrying out elephant censuses, working with communities to reduce human wildlife conflict, securing elephant range outside protected areas, monitoring threats and developing national and sub-regional databases for use in managing elephant and rhino populations.

WWF has identified Mara-Serengeti landscape as a priority landscape and has focused its funding to the conservation of this landscape. WWF calls for the establishment of a strong cross border collaboration between Kenya and Tanzania to address poaching in the entire landscape.

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