Wildside – news from Kenya Wildlife Service

Elephant Census

Tsavo elephant count shows a drop in numbers

WildlifeProvisional results from the 2014 aerial census of elephants in the trans-boundary Tsavo-Mkomazi ecosystem show a drop to about 11,076, compared to 12,573 in the previous census three years ago.

According to Dr Erastus Kanga, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Senior Assistant Director for Biodiversity Research and Monitoring, the findings indicate that the elephant population in the Tsavo ecosystem, which straddles Kenya and Tanzania, is fairly stable and has potential for growth.

Since 1999 when systematic counts were started, the elephant population has oscillated as shown opposite. This indicates that the elephant population in the 48,656 sq km ecosystem has been relatively stable despite numerous challenges related to poaching, livestock incursions into protected areas, charcoal burning and change in land use patterns in the dispersal areas and corridors.

With these results, stakeholders will join hands with KWS to address factors that may negate conservation gains. The aerial counts, held every three years, have been conducted to track the number of elephants in the expansive Tsavo-Mkomazi ecosystem. Mkomazi in Tanzania, Tsavo West, Tsavo East, Chyulu Hills National Parks, South Kitui National Reserve, as well as the Taita ranches and Mackinnon area in Kwale, were covered in the four days. The census counted elephants and other large mammals and was held against the backdrop of world concerns over climate change, declining ecosystems and environmental issues.

Hi-tech tracking
Kenya’s war against poaching has been boosted by the acquisition of superior digital and solar radio communications technology.  The seven million-euro project, which is funded by the French government, will be instrumental in facilitating Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) security operations through the upgrading of its current analogue network to a more robust and enhanced digital platform. The new technology has additional capabilities such as GPS tracking, messaging and voice encryption. This is expected to greatly reduce maintenance costs and increase efficiency in communications. This will ensure timely and accurate responses to cases of human wildlife conflict, poaching and visitor security. This follows the signing of the implementation contract between KWS and Ellipse Projects SAS, a French international engineering and contracting company, for the roll-out of the digital radio and solar power and back-up system project. The project will be implemented in the next three months in Tsavo, Southern (Nairobi, Amboseli) and Central Rift (Nakuru and Maasai Mara) Conservation areas. This project aims to assist KWS in the fight against poaching by the implementation of new technology for digital radio communication for security and conservation efforts.

Joint East Africa tourism visa launched
Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda launched a joint single tourist visa during the 2014 International Tourism Bourse (ITB) in Berlin, Germany. The move is expected to boost regional integration and ease the movement of tourists across the participating countries. All tourists need with the visa is US$100 in order to visit the three states as many times as they wish for three months.