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Elephant population increases in Maasai Mara

22 August 2014, 14:16

Nairobi - 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 on Thursday.

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 percent, 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 percent 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.

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