Number of elephants growing gradually, KWS survey shows

Wednesday June 21 2017

KWS Director General Kitili Mbathi with Acting Deputy director for Strategy and Change Edwin Wanyonyi (left) and Deputy Director for Parks and Reserves Julius Kimani at the agency's  headquarters in Nairobi on June 21, 2017. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

KWS Director General Kitili Mbathi with Acting Deputy director for Strategy and Change Edwin Wanyonyi (left) and Deputy Director for Parks and Reserves Julius Kimani at the agency's headquarters in Nairobi on June 21, 2017. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By PAULINE KAIRU
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The number of elephants in two national parks is growing gradually to where it was before the poaching crisis hit the country, a survey has shown.

The survey by the Kenya Wildlife Service to determine the impact of poaching on the elephant population in the Tsavo-Mkomazi and Mara ecosystems has shown that between 2014 and 2017, the population of elephants in the Tsavo-Mkomazi ecosystem increased by 14.7 per cent. This represents an annual increase of 4.9 per cent.

During the census, a total of 12,866 elephants were counted: 12,843 in the Tsavo ecosystem and 23 in the neighbouring Mkomazi national park.

2,493 ANIMALS

Similarly, in the Mara ecosystem, including the Maasai Mara National Reserve and the Mara Triangle conservancies and wildlife dispersal areas, all together covering an area of 11,681 square kilometres, the population has increased by 72.2 per cent, from 1,448 elephants in 2014 to 2,493 in May this year.

In the report, released at KWS’s headquarters in Nairobi on Wednesday, the agency attributed the positive results to the containment of the poaching that has been rampant in the country for decades. But even then, experts warned that poaching was not the only threat. They cited pressure on elephant habitats as human population grows and more land is used for farming as well as infrastructure development.

“This is a very good result, considering the threat Mara elephants were under due to poaching for trophies and spearing due to human-elephant conflicts,” said KWS director general Kitili Mbathi.