There has been an increase in the number of elephants living in the world famous Mara-Serengeti ecosystem that straddles Tanzania and Kenya in East Africa. According to the results of the latest aerial survey, the elephant population in the region has increased from 2,058 elephants in 1986 to 7,535 this year.
The wet season Serengeti-Mara aerial census report was released by Tanzania’s Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism and called for closer cooperation between Tanzania and Kenya to ensure poaching and the illegal wildlife trade in the region is kept at bay.
Poaching Prevalent Outside Protected Areas
During the survey there were a total of 192 elephant carcasses that were counted, of which 75 were found in Tanzania and 117 were in Kenya. The ratio of carcasses to live elephants was well within the normal range of what is required to maintain a stable or increasing population of elephants.
Despite the increase in elephant numbers in the region, conservationists remain concerned by the fact that 84% of the dead elephants found in Kenya lay outside the Masai Mara National Reserve. What was more worrying was the absence of tusks. This suggests that elephants that do not live in protected areas could be threatened by poaching.
Conservation Communities Want Governments to Improve Policy
The conservation community in Tanzania and Kenya are calling on their governments to improve their elephant management policies as well as make use of technology in the fight against the illegal trade in wildlife. Additionally the conservationists want there to be better management of elephants who live outside the protected areas. Both governments remain keen to partner with conservationists to achieve durable solutions to the challenges faced by endangered species including the rhino as well as the elephant.
WWF Looking To Find Long Term Solutions
The WWF and other conservation organisations are working closely with the governments to find long term solutions to the menace caused by poaching. A lot of the efforts are focused on technology and anti-poaching equipment. There is also engagement with the private sector and engaging communities though anti-poaching campaigns. Efforts are also being made to work with communities to reduce conflict between wildlife and humans and developing national and regional databases that will manage rhino and elephant populations.
According to WWF the Mara-Serengeti landscape is a priority and the organisation has focused its funding on conservation in this region. WWF is lobbying for the introduction of strong cross border cooperation between Tanzania and Kenya to manage poaching across the entire landscape.