Survey: Elephant population increase in Tanzania- Kenya ecosystem

DAR ES SALAAM, Aug 22 (Bernama) -- The number of elephants in the Serengeti-Maasai Mara ecosystem has increased from 258 in 1986 to 7,535, a latest survey has found.

The census was conducted by a scientists' community from Tanzania and Kenya which are sharing the ecosystem, Xinhua news agency reported.

The eco system covers 32,000 sq km of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Serengeti National Park, Maswa District, Ikongoro and Grumeti Wildlife Management areas and Kijereshi Game Reserve on the Tanzanian side and Masai Mara National Park and adjacent areas in Kenya's Narok County.

Tanzanian Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Lazaro Nyalandu said an aerial survey
conducted between May 19 and June 6 this year found 7,535 jumbos compared 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.

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

Nyalandu said 192 carcasses of elephants were counted in the entire ecosystem, with 117 or 61 percent in Kenya and 75 or 39 percent 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 census also revealed the number of buffaloes stood at 61,896, an 18 percent increase from 54,974 in 1986.

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

Charles Musyoki, head of Kenya delegation and assistant wildlife director, said the results were encouraging.

"The situation is not as bad as the global community has been portraying," he said.

-- Xinhua