Tanzania’s president orders investigation after elephant numbers crash

Tanzania’s president orders investigation after elephant numbers crash

elephantA survey at two of Tanzania’s wildlife parks revealed a drop in elephant numbers of 42% between 2006 and 2009. This crash of local elephant populations has led to President Jakaya Kikwete to order an investigation into why numbers have dropped so much.

The study was undertaken by Tanzania’s wildlife authority, Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (Tawiri). The conservation body looked at elephant numbers in the Selous Game Reserve and Mikumi National Park during the period of 2006 and 2009. The numbers that came back from the study has raised real concerns over the populations. [pullquote]It estimated that in 2011 Selous Nation Park alone has been losing as many as 50 elephants a month to poachers.[/pullquote]

42% drop in elephant numbers over 3 years in 2 national parks.

The two parks had an elephant population of 74,900 in 2006 but by 2009 the numbers had dropped to barely over 43,500 – a 42% drop in total numbers.

Tanzania is thought to have a total elephant population of between 110,00 and 140,00. with such a large drop in numbers over such a short period of time there may be a need to re-assess elephant numbers in the country. Tanzania is one of the main countries for African elephants whose total population is now thought to be down to about half a million individuals. Just a few decades ago African elephant numbers were in the millions.

50 elephants a month being lost in Selous National Park.

The population levels recorded in 2009 are already out of date and fears are that the elephant numbers are lower still now. It estimated that in 2011 Selous Nation Park alone has been losing as many as 50 elephants a month to poachers.

Despite a ban of the trade of ivory that was put back in place in 2007 and will be in force to 2016, the trade is still widespread and growing. With no legal sources of ivory available the traders have resorted to using ivory from poaching.

Both Tanzania and Kenya seem to be bearing the brunt of this increased elephant poaching activity.

Tanzania’s President orders investigation into elephant loses.

The Presidential directive to find out what is happening to the elephants in Tanzania was issued last week when President Kikwete met senior Tawiri officials at the Serengeti National Park.  The meeting also saw the launch of a five year action plan to protect and conserve Tanzania’s elephants.

The directive also called for Tiwiri to investigate the losses of another species targeted by poachers, the rare Roosevelt’s sable antelope. The antelope is now no longer found in some of Tanzanias wildlife parks and reserve.

It’s a popular species with tourists and many visitors to Tanzania hope to catch a glimpse of the majestic black antelope and it’s long curved horns. Tiwiri have been given the task of working out a way to reintroduce the species to parks which no longer host them.

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