By Renson Mnyamwezi
Taita Taveta, Kenya: The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) will conduct an aerial census of elephants in the expansive Tsavo National Park in Taita-Taveta County and the Mkamazi ecosystem in Tanzania next month.
According to a senior KWS official, the Tsavo-Mkamazi wildlife census exercise will start from February 4 to 10 this year.
The exercise has been supported by various stakeholders including Daphne Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Monitoring of Illegal Killing of Elephants, Africa Elephant Fund, Save the Elephants and Tsavo Trust.
A number of pilots have also volunteered to join the exercise conducted every two years, said KWS Corporate Communications Manager Paul Udoto.
He said the Tsavo census usually covers Mkomazi in Tanzania, Tsavo West, Tsavo East and Chyullu Hills national parks, South Kitui National Reserve as well as the outlaying areas of Taita ranches and Mackinnon in Kwale.
Mr Udoto said the census would seek to establish the population, trends and distribution of elephants as well as map out human activities inside and outside the protected areas.
“The results help policy makers and park management make sound decisions on resource allocation for security operations and conflict management,” he said yesterday.
The Tsavo ecosystem census started in 2002 and is conducted every three years.
In a statement, Udoto said previous aerial census in 2011 in the same area showed that the elephant population stood at 12,572 up from 11,696 recorded in the 2008 census.
He said the census is a requirement of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
The county harbours the largest elephant population in the country, as 65 per cent of the region is occupied by the Tsavo ecosystem.