KILIMANJARO HEARTLAND--Kenyan and Tanzanian wildlife authorities have released results of the first joint aerial cross-border wildlife census conducted in the Greater Amboseli-West Kilimanjaro/Magadi-Natron landscapes. The African Wildlife Foundation with other partners supported the park authorities as they conducted the census within their respective borders.
According to the recent census, the world-famous Amboseli elephant population remained stable. However, the numbers of large grazing herbivores fell dramatically, a finding attributed to the region's severe 2007-2009 drought. Wildebeests declined by a staggering 83 percent (from 18,538 to 3,098), zebra by about 71 percent (from 15,328 to 4,432), and buffalo by 61 percent (from 588 to 231). The Amboseli region's livestock population also declined by more than 60 percent, seriously affecting livelihood opportunities for the people of the region.
Although substantial, the wildlife losses were less severe than some observers had predicted.
"While the population of wildebeest and zebra declined by more than 70 percent, there is substantial remnant populations that are fairly distributed and might possibly recover given favorable conditions," the study concludes.
At the larger ecosystem level, zebras were the most numerous of the documented wildlife, numbering more than 13,700 individuals, followed by Grant gazelles (8,362), common wildebeest (7, 240), Maasai giraffe (4,164), eland (1992), Maasai ostrich (1,461), and the African elephant.
In addition to counting 25 wildlife species, the census identified various threats facing wildlife conservation, including loss of habitat, destruction of habitat through human activity, fragmentation of wildlife corridors, and the effects of climate changes.
The census results, collected by and including teams of census officials, pilots, GIS experts, and technical observers, will help parks authorities and conservationists better understand key transboundary wildlife corridors and dispersal areas as well as the interactions among the migratory species that use the Magadi, Natron, West Kilimanjaro, and Amboseli regions. It will also help foster greater cross boundary collaboration in law enforcement, wildlife monitoring, and information sharing among the various stakeholders.
Read more about the census.
Download the full report.
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