- Posted January 28, 2014 by
New Census: Elephant Poaching Alarming!!!
Dar es Salaam. A government census of the population of elephants in two major habitats of jumbos in the country has revealed a shocking picture of the devastation poaching is inflicting on their numbers.
Conducted late last year, the tallying in the Selous-Mikumi and Ruaha-Rungwa ecosystems revealed a sharp decline on jumbos in the two important strongholds for elephants in the world.
The October – November census also confirms claims of the country, which is said to have lost half of its elephant population in the past four years, being the slaughter house of jumbos in the world. Wildlife conservationists have warned that Tanzania is losing rapidly its elephant population as poaching continues unabated.
Presenting the census results yesterday in Dar es Salaam, the deputy minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Lazaro Nyalandu, reiterated the government’s desire and efforts to deal with the poaching menace.
“This census results are clear evidence that poaching of elephants has reached unprecedented levels. In response we are determined to intensify the protection of wildlife in collaboration with other stakeholders…my ministry is finalizing the process of establishing an autonomous body, Tanzania Wildlife Authority,” he said.
The minister also said the wildlife conservation laws are being reviewed in order to allow adoption of paramilitary system among employees of the wildlife sector.
According to him, the census that cost $160,000 (about Sh258 million) was funded by the government, the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) and UNDP. The tallying put the current number of elephants in the Selous-Mikumi ecosystem at 13,084, which is a 66 per cent drop from their 38,975 population in 2009.
In the Ruaha-Rungwa ecological region, the jumbos population dropped by 35 per cent from 31,625 to 20,090 during the period.
Statistics from previous census indicate that in 1976 the Selous-Mikumi had 109, 419 elephants. The number dropped dramatically to 22,208 in 1991 following a wave of poaching between 1984 and 1989.
Following a countrywide ‘Operation Uhai’ from 1990, the population of elephants in 2006, the highest number of elephants in the recent years was recorded as 70,406. However, with the rise of poaching, the number has dramatically dropped to the current 13,084.
The census by using carcass ratio (the portion of live elephants and carcasses) established the causes of deaths. “Under normal conditions, a ratio of seven to eight per cent indicates natural mortality such as diseases and old age. A ratio more than that indicates non-natural causes,” said the minister.
According to a report released by UN Office on Drugs and Crime (Unodc) September last year, 37 per cent of the illicit ivory consignments seized globally between 2009 and 2011 originated from Tanzania. The report also revealed that 64 per cent of the elephants that died in 2011 at Selous Game Reserve were illegally killed by poachers; the number stood at 94 per cent in Ruaha.