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Elephant deaths fall but some losses unexplained

Kenya lost 396 elephants last year due to diverse causes compared to 727 that died during 2017, according to Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) officials.

The figure translates to a 30 per cent drop in total elephant mortalities over the last year.  Poaching of elephants has also reduced by 50 per cent from 80 cases recorded in 2017 to 40 cases in 2018.

KWS Acting Director General Charles Musyoki said in a statement that all ivory from the carcasses except for jumbos that died from poaching was recovered and is in safe custody.

He denied a recent report by a conservation agency, Mara Elephant Project (MEP) based in Masai Mara that 26 elephants had died in the game reserve in three months-September to November due to poisoning. “In the Masai Mara Ecosystem, a total of 61 elephants died last year.

“About 38 per cent (23 jumbos) died as a result of natural causes; 16 per cent (10) were due to human-elephant conflict; seven per cent (four) were poached and 39 per cent (24) died from causes that were not immediately established since the carcasses were detected when they were petrified and extensively scavenged,” said Musyoki.

He said two elephants in the ecosystem died from ingesting carbamate insecticides when the elephants strayed into farms that were sprayed with herbicides and pesticides.“There has been an increase of cases of human-wildlife in the Mara Ecosystem due to change in land use, which is not compatible with wildlife conservation,” he said.

Kenya’s elephant population has remained healthy with a current estimate of 35,000 elephants having increased by 119 per cent over a period of 29 years from 16,000 elephants in 1989.  “The Mara ecosystem elephants have increased from 1,000 in 1983 to the present 2,493 translating to an increase of 149 per cent in 35 years,” Musyoki said.

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