NAIROBI, (Xinhua) --
The number of elephants in Kenya increased by
14.7 percent between 2014 and 2017, wildlife authorities said on
The Kenya Wildlife
Service (KWS) which released findings after dry season aerial
census conducted in the country’s largest conservation area in
February said 12,866 elephants were counted in Kenya’s top
elephant sanctuary—the Tsavo Ecosystem that covers an area of
49,611 sq km.
“This growth is
attributable to decline in level of poaching activities
following additional of well-trained and equipped rangers. We
are still not out of the woods yet because every new day
portends danger to the elephant,” KWS Director General Kitili
Mbathi told journalists in Nairobi.
He said a total of
1,167 carcasses were recorded during the survey, adding that the
‘very old’ elephant carcasses had the highest population with
more than 53.4 percent numbering 623 of the total remains,
followed by old carcasses at 44 percent (514).
Only three and 27
fresh and recent carcasses respectively were encountered during
the survey which is held every three years.
Mbathi said nine
light aircraft fitted with observer calibrated streamers and
flying at altitudes between 300 and 400 ft above ground across
the ecosystem were used where data was captured by observers on
the airplane using GPS and digital voice recorders.
He however cautioned
that the good news should be no reason for complacency as
poaching seems to be on the increase all over the continent,
especially in countries where the rule of law is fragile.
The census also
established that there was an increase in human activities like
charcoal burning and livestock-keeping within and around the
protected areas compared to previous years and which pose a
threat to wildlife and their habitat.
Director in Charge of Ecological Monitoring, Dr. Shadrack Ngene,
said the census uncovered a large number of elephant calves
below three years, which could be seen walking alongside their
“The increase in
population of the young ones is due to reduction in levels of
poaching that has taken away stress from the animals. Elephants
don’t reproduce under duress,” Ngene said.
The recovery in
elephant numbers is a real Kenyan conservation success story,
after elephant numbers plummeted from a peak of 35,000 in 1976
to lowest point of 5,400 in 1988.