The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has reported an increase in the number of elephants and buffaloes in the Tsavo-Mkomazi and Masai Mara ecosystems over the last three years.
An aerial survey conducted by the KWS showed the elephant population at the Mara increased72.2% from 2014 up to this year.
“A total of 2,493 elephants were counted compared to 1,448 elephants counted 1n 2014. This represents an increase of 72.2%, which is a very good result considering the threat Mara elephants were under due to poaching for trophies and spearing due to human-elephant conflicts,” the KWS said in a press release.
The KWS also observes that a total of 45 elephant carcasses (26 very old; 18 old and one recent carcass) were encountered during the survey, representing an overall carcasses ratio of 1.8% for the Mara ecosystem.
A total of 9,466 buffalo were counted compared to 7,542 recorded over the same season in 2014, representing a 26% increase in the population while population of giraffes increased to 2,607 in 2017 compared to 1,619 in 2010, representing a 61% increase.
The Kenya Wildlife Service launched the seven day wildlife census in the Mara ecosystem in May, with the aim of taking stock of the population distribution, migration and trends of the animals.
The current survey was done within protected areas, the Masai Mara National Reserve and Mara Triangle, Conservancies and their immediate neighborhoods, or dispersal areas in the Mara ecosystem. The 2017 survey was carried out between May 15 and 28, 2017 covering an area of 11,681 km², as part of long-term ecological monitoring aerial censuses.
ELEPHANTS, BUFFALOES AND GIRAFFES IN TSAVO AND MKOMAZI
The KWS survey also found that the elephant population in Tsavo-Mkomazi Ecosystem increased by14.7% over the last three years. A total of 12,866 elephants were counted; 12,843 in Tsavo Ecosystem and 23 in Mkomazi National Park.
The total population of buffalo counted in Tsavo-Mkomazi ecosystem during the February 2017 census was 8,623, which is about 46% increase compared to 5,912 buffalo recorded in the same ecosystem in 2014.
INCREASED HUMAN ACTIVITIES IN NATIONAL PARKS
The KWS also reported an increase in human activities within and around the protected areas in the Mara and the Tsavo ecosystems.
In the Mara, these human activities include electric and plain wire fencing as well as tin roofed households in the ecosystem which pose a threat to the wildlife habitat.
Incidents of charcoal burning and a rising number of livestock in the ecosystem, both of which “pose a threat to wildlife and their habitat” according to the KWS.
Nine light aircraft, 4-seater and 2-seater planes, fitted with observer calibrated streamers were used for the counting exercise and data was captured by observers in the aircrafts using GPS and digital voice recorders.