EXTRACT FROM THE FOLLOWING THIRD PARTY SOURCE: Written by: Jeremy Hance for Mongabay
In the 1980s Uganda’s elephants looked like they were on their way to extinction. The country had only 700 to 800 elephants left, and all of them were in a single park. Poachers had exterminated the rest.
However, a new survey as part of the Great Elephant Census has confirmed that Uganda has a growing population of more than 5,000 elephants and is now a burgeoning hotspot in the ivory poaching crisis.
“It is very encouraging to see elephant numbers increasing in Uganda as a result of effective protection in several parks. (This is in spite of) the rampant poaching and ivory trafficking across much of Africa,” claimed Paul Elkan, a Senior Conservationist with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which conducted the survey in conjunction with the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).
The surveys, taken by plane, gave estimates of 2,913 elephants in Queen Elizabeth National Park, 1,330 elephants in Murchison Falls National Park, and 656 elephants between the Kidepo Valley National Park and the Karenga Community Wildlife Management Area.
The Great Elephant Census, funded in part by Paul G. Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft, is an 18 nation effort to lend concrete statistics to Africa’s savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana) population. The census is already highlighting starkly different contrasts. For example, while elephants are thriving in Queen Elizabeth National Park, populations have been hit hard over the border in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
“The results of an aerial survey with ICCN conducted at the same time estimated fewer than 50 elephants left (in Virunga National Park) because of high levels of poaching. (As a result, the elephants) have migrated to Uganda for security,” shared Andrew Plumptre, the director for the Albertine Rift Program of WCS. He added that “some 3,000 elephants were estimated to have thrived in Virunga in the early 1960s.”
Yesterday, the WCS and the government of Mozambique announced the East African country had lost 10,000 elephants in just five years. All in all, conservationists estimate that poachers have killed between 20,000 and 30,000 elephants every year since the crisis began in 2007.
However, strongholds for savanna elephants still remain. The Great Elephant Census estimated 129,000 elephants in northern Botswana, making it the largest population on the continent. Even more importantly, the survey found zero signs of poaching in this region.
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