How a census aids in elephant conservation work
Count sheep. That’s the advice given to people having trouble falling asleep—a clear indication that most don’t consider counting animals an exciting task. Yet the counting of animals is crucial to conservation efforts. Wildlife censuses help gauge population patterns and distributions across habitats and time.
- Congo, Virunga, Chimpanzee, Mountain Gorilla, DRC, Kenya, West/Central Africa, Threats, Bwindi Mountain Gorilla Census, Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, Mountain Gorilla Rangers, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge
- Gayane Margaryan
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending the African Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) brown bag meeting on the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF’s) African Great Apes Program—you can see that we love acronyms in conservation—on AWF’s behalf.
When we checked in on progress of the Bwindi census in September, we met Harriet Kyakyo, a volunteer with the Uganda Wildlife Authority and the only woman participating in the census as a team member. She ended up spending a total of 4 weeks in Bwindi, with two weeks on, two weeks off, and another two weeks on.
Yes, a census is about getting the population numbers of mountain gorillas and their distributions within the forest. But what goes on in the course of conducting the census is, in some ways, much more valuable than the results themselves.
We went out knowing that we were in the known territory of unhabituated groups of mountain gorillas as well as the recently habituated tourism group Oruzogo. We were conducting reconnaissance trails in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park's Sector I and while we couldn't expect to find anything noteworthy on that particular day, anything was possible.