KWS partners with IFAW to determine Elephant Populations in Kenya’s largest Ecosystem

Friday, February 4, 2011
Tsavo, Kenya
A six-day aerial census of elephants and other large mammals starts today in the Tsavo-Mkomazi ecosystem with more than 100 participants drawn from four countries. Aimed at establishing the populations, trends and distribution of elephants, the census will assist policy makers and the wildlife authorities make sound conservation policy and management decisions for the ecosystem. The last aerial count in the ecosystem conducted in 2008 established 11,696 elephants, about a third of Kenya’s total elephant population.

The census participants are from Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), International Fund for Animal welfare (IFAW -  www.ifaw.org), other Kenyan institutions and NGOs, and representatives from Tanzania, Southern Sudan and Uganda.

IFAW is providing fuel for aircrafts and vehicles, a census technical team and on-site assistance for the exercise in terms of logistical support for participants and administrative materials.

Covering an expanse of 46,437 square kilometres, other animals to be counted in the Tsavo-Mkomazi ecosystem are buffalo, giraffe, rhino, eland and lion as well as large birds such as ostrich. Human activities that will be monitored during the synchronised count will include settlements, farms, logging and livestock bomas and incursions.

Commenting on the exercise, James Isiche, IFAW East Africa regional director said, “It is our responsibility to continuously establish and monitor elephant populations, trends and distribution to enhance their protection. We must all join efforts to ensure that elephants are not wiped out from the face of the earth.

“While this census is integral to the conservation and management of elephants, the real challenge remains protecting them from threats such as poaching and challenges brought forth by land-use changes,” added Isiche.

The KWS Director Julius Kipng’etich will address the press on 12 February 2011 at the site, where he will announce the results of the count.

Abutting Tsavo to the northeast, Mkomazi National Park is located in Tanzania and is part of the larger ecosystem.

In 1967, Tsavo had some 35,000 elephants; in early 1970s, about 6,000 elephants went through natural attrition from severe drought; by 1988, about 5,400 individuals were left owing to an onslaught of poaching by Somali bandits. With the formation of KWS in 1990, concerted efforts to combat the poaching gangs, and the 1989 ban on international trade in ivory, Tsavo elephant populations have been on a gradual rise.

Since 2005, IFAW has been undertaking a partnership project in Tsavo with the KWS to enhance management operations in law enforcement and anti-poaching efforts, park infrastructural support, human-wildlife conflict mitigation and resolution, community conservation initiatives, research and education.

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