Tanzania is set to recount its elephants in November, a move aimed at resolving the recently reported disappearance of more than 12,000 elephants in the Ruaha-Rungwa ecosystem in 2013/2014, authorities said on Monday.

Elephants
Elephants

Simon Mduma, the Director General of Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute in Arusha, said a team of researchers from the institute will undertake the exercise which may establish the whereabouts of the endangered elephants which are hunted down by poachers for their ivory.

“Although the recount will be focused on the vast ecosystem which covers the great Ruaha National Park and the adjacent Rungwa, Kigosi and Muhesi game reserves and a protected area known as Itigi Thickets, it may extend to other areas inhabited by the elephants,” said Mduma.

“Depending on ground surveys, we may extend to include the other areas that are thought to harbor elephants,” he said.

The elephants in question could not be traced during the 2014 national elephant aerial surveys, a situation which left wildlife experts puzzled.

In June, the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Lazaro Nyalandu described the results as “disturbing,” ordering for an immediate repeat of the counting exercise.

Mduma said that the trend was shocking because a mini-survey of elephants conducted in the Ruaha-Rungwa ecosystem in the 2013 recorded a population of about 24,000 elephants.

He said the new census will be funded by the Tanzania National Parks, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA), the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) as well as the U.S.-based Wildlife Conservation Society and other local and global wildlife bodies.

Last year’s elephant census was a follow-up to another nationwide count held in 2009, which revealed a decrease of 65,721 elephants from 109, 051 to only 43,330 jumbos, an equivalent of a 60.3 percent drop in a span of five years. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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