The year 2020 has served us up some awful news, from devastating bushfires in Australia, a pandemic causing chaos around the world, Kobe Bryant dying in a helicopter crash, and everything else in between.
But finally, there has been some good news and it’s coming out of Kenya.
The country’s elephant population has more than doubled since numbers were taken in 1989.
At an event celebrating World Elephant Day on Wednesday 12 August, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said that elephant numbers have grown from just 16,000 in 1989 to more than 34,000 by 2018.
Tourism Minister Najib Balala said efforts from authorities to “tame poaching” have resulted in the population boom.
“In the past couple of years, we have managed to tame poaching in this country,” the minister told reporters, during a visit to Amboseli National Park.
“This year alone, about 170 elephant calves have been born,” he added.
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Kenya Wildlife Service shared the good news on their Facebook page
“Today we are also launching the Magical Kenya elephant naming campaign, an annual festival whose objective will be to collect funds from the naming, to support the Rangers welfare.
“This year alone, about 170 elephant calves have been born.”
The increase in numbers is thanks to a massive mission to crack down on poachers and ensure current elephants have the habitat they need to procreate. Rangers have the essential job of protecting the elephants and act as armed guards for the endangered animals.
Sadly, the situation isn’t the same in the other African regions
“This year alone, about 170 elephant calves have been born,” Najib Balala announced at the event
This year, Kenya has only seen seven elephants poached compared to 34 in 2019 and as many as 80 back in 2018.
Continuing with an update on the elephant population in recent years, KWS director-general, John Waweru, added: “It is fortunate that Kenya has a conservation and management strategy for elephants in place to guide elephant recovery strategies, which has seen a more than 100% growth in Kenya’s population from 16,000 in 1989 to 34,800 by end of 2019”.
Sadly though, the impressive efforts to boost elephant numbers aren’t being seen across the rest of Africa.
The continent housed 1.3 million elephants back in the 1970s and it only has around 500,000 today – of which just 30,000 are actually living in the wild.
This is due to an increased interest in ivory imports and rhino horns in Asia.
However, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has been determined to take a hard stance on the issue – even setting fire to thousands of elephant tusks and rhino horns to show smugglers just what he thought of their endeavors.
He’s also introduced longer jail terms and heftier fines for those caught engaging in poaching or trafficking animals.
Image credits: Flickr
According to Fox News, “the Kenyan government has imposed longer jail terms and larger fines for poachers and smugglers as part of its crackdown on the ivory trade.” And it seems like this new system is paying off. Turns out, throughout 2020, Kenya has only seen seven elephants poached compared to 34 in 2019 and as many as 80 back in 2018.
“Today we are also launching the Magical Kenya elephant naming campaign, an annual festival whose objective will be to collect funds from the naming, to support the Rangers welfare,” Balala said, referring to the armed guards who’s task is to deter poachers. “This year alone, about 170 elephant calves have been born.”
According to Timeless Africa Safaris, “fitting radio collars to elephants is one of the best ways to understand their social behavior, track their migration patterns, and see how they interact with their natural habitat. The elephant is darted from the air and guests have the opportunity to observe the vets at work while learning about these iconic African animals and their biological importance. Once the collar is secured, the vet administers the antidote and within a couple of minutes the elephant will be back up on its feet.”
Image credits: Flickr