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Elephant population increases in Serengeti-Maasai Mara: survey

DAR ES SALAAM (Xinhua) -- The number of elephants in the Serengeti-Maasai Mara ecosystem has increased from 258 in 1986 to 7,535, according to the results of a latest survey released midweek.

The census was conducted by a scientists’ community from Tanzania and Kenya which are sharing the ecosystem covering 32,000 square-kilometers of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Serengeti National Park, Maswa District, Ikongoro and Grumeti Wildlife Management areas, and Kijereshi Game Reserve on the Tanzanian side as well as Masai Mara National Park and adjacent areas in the Narok County of Kenya.

Tanzania’s Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Lazaro Nyalandu said an aerial survey conducted between May 19 and June 6 this year indicated there were 7,535 jumbos as opposed to 258 in 1986.

An analysis of the census data suggests an increase of elephants in the southern part of the ecosystem in contrast to a decline in the northern part, Nyalandu said.

"Besides a birthrate upsurge, there is no other explanation to the increase," the minister said, admitting that elephants’ migration from the north to the south could partly play a role.

Nyalandu said 192 carcasses of elephants were counted in the entire ecosystem, 117 of which, equivalent to 61 percent, were in Kenya, and 75 of them, equivalent to 39 per cent, were in Tanzania.

However, barely 17 carcasses were estimated to have been of elephants killed within the last 18 months, suggesting that poaching was on the decline in the recent past.

The buffalo population was also counted during the census which established 61,896 of them, 18 per cent increase from 54,974 in 1986.

"These results provide highest population estimates of elephants and buffaloes ever recorded in history," the minister said.

"The results are encouraging, for the situation is not as bad as the global community has been portraying," said Charles Musyoki, the head of Kenya delegation and assistant wildlife director.

Musyoki said on behalf of the cabinet secretary in charge of wildlife that owing to the Serengeti-Masai Mara transcending boundaries, there was a need for establishing and nurturing dialogue on important conservation issues.


Man killed by elephants in northern Tanzania village

ARUSHA, Tanzania (Xinhua) -- A herd of elephants wreaked havoc in northern Tanzania’s district of Longido, killing one person and injuring several others, an official said on Wednesday.

James Ole Millya, Longido District Commissioner, told Xinhua via telephone that the man was killed on Sunday when the elephants strayed into Tingatinga village, located nearly 85 km from the northern tourist hub of Arusha.

"Some people sustained with severe injuries in the tragic incident," the commissioner said, adding that "The killed man was at his home when a herd of elephants attacked him."

The official said after a few hours, fully-armed wildlife rangers arrived in the village, teamed with villagers and killed one of the elephants.

"They also managed to chase away the group of elephants, which were still roaming around the village," he said, adding that the dead man becomes the sixth to be killed by elephants in the past three years.

"We have been asking wildlife officials to chip-in and address the challenge, but nothing is done on the ground," Millya said.

The commissioner has directed Longodi district council to set up an office for wildlife officers in Tingatinga village to address the challenge which is becoming chronic in the area.

"..we also asked the district council to evaluate the crop damage caused by elephants, which have been storming people’s farms," he said.

Tingatinga village is one of the villages which is close to wildlife corridor that allows wild animals to migrate from the Longido-Oloitokitok-West-Kilimanjaro eco-system and Kenya’s Amboseli National Park.

Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Wildlife Conservancy develops anti- poaching device

NANYUKI (Xinhua) -- The East Africa’s largest black rhino sanctuary, Ol Pejeta Wildlife Conservancy said Wednesday it has acquired software that automatically identifies poachers and counts wildlife in real time.

Public Relations Manager, Elodie Sampere, said the application dubbed Rhino Finda developed by a student, James Ault, analyses thermal imaging footage to automatically count wildlife.

"We believe that the long-term future of wildlife tracking lies in automatic recognition technology software that will review thermal and visual video footage from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and automatically recognize and count wildlife," she said in a statement issued from Nanyuki.

Sampere said the technology can automatically identify a poacher moving within the sanctuary for swift response.

According to Sampere, the application was chosen following a worldwide competition that attracted submissions from students.

Ol Pejeta Conservancy is a 90,000-acre game reserve hosting a wide array of wildlife. Since late 2009, it has also been home to four of the last seven northern white rhinos left in the world.


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