Issued by Corporate Communications Department – Tanzania National Parks
The elephant population in the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem has increased by 266 percent in the last 28 years. This was revealed in Arusha yesterday by the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Hon. Lazaro Nyalandu during the official announcements of the Serengeti-Mara aerial census of elephants and buffaloes which was done between May and June this year.
Hon. Lazaro Nyalandu disclosed that a total of 7,535 elephants were counted in the surveyed area. This result shows increasing trend of the elephant population from 2,058 in 1986 to 7,535 individuals in 2014.The most recent best estimate of the population was 3,419 elephants estimated in year 2006.
The census report revealed an increase of elephants in the southern part of the Serengeti National Park in contrast to a decline in the northern area of Masai Mara. The observed decrease in the Mara suggests elephant migration into the Serengeti area where a spike in elephant population was witnessed in this census.
The survey covered an area of 32,000 square kilometres, as part of the long-term ecological monitoring program. The surveyed areas included the Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Maswa, Ikorongo, Grumeti and Kijereshi Game Reserves in Tanzania and Masai-Mara National Reserve and adjacent Group Ranches in Kenya.
The census also counted a total of 61,896 buffaloes, which is an increase of 13 percent, compared to 54,979 buffaloes counted in 1986. Buffalo population analyses indicate a decline from early to the mid-1990s before registering a steady growth thereafter. This decline was attributed to poaching and a severe drought recorded in 1993.
The 2014 Wet Season Serengeti-Mara Aerial Census of elephants and buffaloes was done jointly by Conservation and Research Organizations from Tanzania and Kenya, using harmonized survey techniques as part of the long-term ecological monitoring censuses undertaken since 1986. The censuses provided information on seasonal abundances and distribution of elephants and buffaloes.
Joint surveys carried out in the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem provide useful information for conservation, policy formulation and tourism. Such information includes identifying important wildlife hot spots, seasonal animal distribution, wildlife abundances, and extents of human activities within protected areas and its immediate neighborhood.
With the changes that are affecting conservation sector today, census information is becoming increasingly important for conservation purposes especially in the face of increasing human pressure to many natural resources including wildlife.
Hon. Nyalandu urged management authorities to use such valuable information in their planning for sustainable conservation of wildlife resources.
The results of elephant and buffalo counts in the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem provide the highest population estimates ever recorded in history; a clear indication of increasing trends as a result of good conservation practices.