A wildlife census conducted in the Serengeti National Park of Tanzania and the Maasai-Mara Game Reserve in Kenya indicates that many elephants in the eco-system are rapidly moving southward from Kenya to Tanzania.
The Trans-boundary Serengeti-Mara Census conducted by the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI) in conjunction with the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) was specifically concentrated in tallying the number of elephants and buffaloes within the 32,000 square kilometers encompassing the World’s largest eco-system.
“The census results show that there has been a 266 percent upward increase of elephants in the Serengeti Mara with most of the 7535 elephants counted, found to be concentrated in the Serengeti National Park, the adjacent Maswa, Kijereshi and Ikorongo game reserves as well as Ngorongoro Conservation Area, precincts falling within Tanzania,” said the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr. Lazaro Nyalandu.
In the Kenya’s Maasai Mara an average of 1000 elephants were counted indicating a shift of the animal habitat from north moving south into Tanzania’s Serengeti.
The Minister pointed out that the current number of Elephants (7,535) counted in 2014 has increased by three-fold from those tallied during the estimates done in 1986 when a total of 2058 were found within the eco-system 28 years ago. This, according to the experts, was a 266 percent increase in less than three decades.
The latest numbers of elephants, according to the 2014 census report, have also doubled from the 2006 estimates when 3400 elephants were counted in the Serengeti-Mara reserves. This as far as the Director General for TAWIRI Dr Simon Mduma is concerned, is a rather astounding achievement considering that poaching incidents had actually escalated from 2007.
The Head of species research program with the Kenya Wildlife Services Dr Charles Musyoki though admitting that elephants from Maasai-Mara were flocking into Serengeti in Tanzania, refuted the possibility of hostile environment on the Kenyan side which should be driving the animals away.
“I think it is just normal for animals, including elephants to migrate, it does not necessarily mean that we are mistreating them in Kenya,” said Dr Musyoki adding that it was also positive that the elephants’ disappearance means that the elephants had actually moved to Tanzania and not poached as feared.
But Serengeti National Park’s Chief Warden Mr. William Mwakilema thinks otherwise; “We have a very conducive environment in Tanzania, where the wildlife species feel safe and that is why they are rushing into Serengeti,” he pointed out.
*Reproduced from the Arusha Times