Posted on 17 July 2012
A new agreement between Mozambique and Tanzania to share aerial survey results is expected to dramatically increase the effectiveness of measures to stop rampant poaching and illegal timber trading across the border.
Towards the end of the year 2011, both countries conducted aerial wildlife census. In Tanzania, the survey covered 106, 933Km2 in the Selous-Mikumi Ecosystem and Selous-Niassa Wildlife Corridor. In Mozambique, the survey covered 69, 769 Km2 in Northern Mozambique particularly in the Niassa and Cabo Delgado Provinces.
On the understanding that Mozambique and Tanzania share the same border, WWF facilitated a joint meeting between the two countries to discuss and share information on the status of transboundary elephant population.
The aim of the transboundary cooperation between the two countries is driven by several factors, among others include (i) sharing of experience, (ii) identifying management challenges, (iii) gaining common understanding of the status and distribution of species, elephants in particular (iv) possibilities of future cooperation (v) discussing/sharing survey results.
Both countries conducted aerial wildlife census in the dry season of 2011. In Tanzania, the survey covered 106, 933Km2 in the Selous-Mikumi Ecosystem and Selous-Niassa Wildlife Corridor. In Mozambique, the survey covered 69, 769 Km2 in Northern Mozambique particularly in the Niassa and Cabo Delgado Provinces. The two surveys were done independently, in Tanzania, the survey was conducted by the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI), and in the Mozambique side, it was conducted by SGDRN under the supervision of Dr. Colin Craig. The surveys generally followed similar methodology based on universally accepted methods.
In Mozambique side, results revealed that most of the elephants were estimated to be within the Niassa Reserve (12,029, ranging from 9,498 – 14,560 within 95% confidence interval) with few estimates in the West (Sanga) and Quirimbas in the east. The extent of elephant population range to the South of the reserve (Nipepe, Marrupa and Majune) is unknown. The Selous-Mikumi Ecosystem holds a population of 53,488 (range 41,109 – 65867 within 95% confidence interval) of which 75% were found inside Selous Game Reserve.
In Mozambique there has been a four-fold increase in number of carcasses in Niassa Reserve which resulted in approximately 2,667 additional carcasses since 2009; it is suspected that most of these are a result of illegal hunting. In Tanzania, 4,159 elephant carcasses were estimated in the 2011 survey, which is a three-fold increase compared to the 2009 survey the majority of which are suspected to have been hunted illegally.
Evidence from these surveys confirms the alarming increase in the poaching of elephants in both countries, which is unsustainable if not stopped.
Therefore, both parties agreed that, there is a need for future collaboration in conducting synchronized aerial wildlife census and sharing the results. These will be shared with relevant management authorities in curbing transboundary illegal activities between the two countries.