By Jessica Poitevien
Oct 22, 2021
IT’S NOT UNHEARD OF for a government to study the demographics of its population, but officials from Kenya took that concept one step further with its first-ever National Wildlife Census. Results are already promising: Kenya had an elephant “baby boom,” with more than 200 elephants born throughout 2020.
The Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, the Hon. Najib Balala, described the increase in the elephant population as “Covid gifts” — a silver lining during tough times. Indeed, the pandemic was particularly hard on elephants, particularly in Southeast Asia.
“The information generated during the census will support the implementation of Government of Kenya conservation and tourism policies and support tools for adaptive management,” he said in a statement.
Conducted by Kenya’s newly created Wildlife Research and Training Institute, the census will serve as a baseline for future assessments of the country’s wildlife population.
To celebrate the elephant “baby boom” and further the country’s commitment to wildlife conservation, Magical Kenya and the Kenya Wildlife Service organized an elephant adoption and naming ceremony on October 9 in Amboseli National Park.
“The goal of the festival is to secure a future for elephants and their habitats in peaceful coexistence with humans,” a statement from the organizers read.
The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) was one of the first organizations to symbolically name one of Kenya’s elephants with a US$5,000 donation. Though donors can’t take their adopted cuties home for obvious reasons, they’ll receive regular updates as to how their elephant is doing in the national park.
Beyond the good news about the baby elephants, the Kenya National Wildlife Census revealed other positive statistics as well. The overall elephant population has increased by 12%, while the giraffe population grew by 34,240, representing about a 49% increase in three years.
Unfortunately, the census also had some dire news for other wildlife populations, with some, like the roan and sable antelope and mountain bongo, facing local extinction. These issues are worsened by human activity, including the introduction of livestock to areas normally inhabited by wildlife, as well as conflicts that force people to settle and plant crops in areas that the wildlife need to survive.
With statistics to prove the success of past conservation efforts, the Kenyan government remains committed to protecting its wildlife.
For more information, head to the Kenya Wildlife Service website.