Tony Karumba / AFP via Getty Images
Amboseli National Park in Kenya is experiencing a baby elephant boom.
Park, located at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro, has reported the birth of more 170 calves this year and continuing to increase. Furthermore, the twins were born this year, a rarity according to Amboseli Trust For Elephants, a non-profit conservation group in Kenya.
In contrast, the Trust reports 113 newborn calves in 2018. (2019 is not a good year for comparison since the gestation period of a pregnant elephant is up to two years.)
“The main reason the population rebound is due to the excess rainfall we’ve had over the past two years,” said Tal Manor, ATE’s project manager, in an email to NPR. “Child booms are largely associated with ecological changes.”
In 2019, the International Rescue Commission reported higher-than-usual rains, causing massive flooding, killing people and crop damage in East Africa. Heavy rain comes after the area has years of severe drought. For elephants, more rain means more vegetation to graze on and less death from dehydration and hunger.
“Overall, anti-poaching efforts in Kenya are also very high and elephants in general are safer, that is,” said [fewer] Manor added, “And Kenya’s elephant population is increasing.”
The infant boom is not the only statistically sounding pachyderm species. The Kenya Wildlife Service said the country’s elephant population had increased from 16,000 in 1989 to 34,800 by the end of 2019.
There are a number of threats to elephant populations – drought related to climate change, clashing with land farmers that elephants trampled and poachers illegally hunting and killing animals to take their precious tusks.
Kenya’s Cabinet Minister for Wildlife and Tourism, Najib Balala, said that the increase in elephant numbers was partly due to the country’s efforts to stop poachers.
Balala told reporters at Amboseli National Park during an event on Wednesday that coincided with World Elephant Day for the past few years, “Over the past few years, we have tame poaching in this country. .
In 2019, the Kenyan government introduced more serious consequences for anyone convicted of poaching, including large fines and time in prison, the AP reported.
In Kenya, 80 elephants are poached in 2018. The number has dropped dramatically to 34 by 2019. And by 2020 the number is on track to reach even smaller numbers throughout the year.
“Our number of poached elephants since January has been seven,” said Balala. He added: “We’re sorry it was seven.”
Despite promising numbers in Kenya, African elephants are considered a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Although illegal poaching remains a threat to the population, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species reports “the most important threat perceived” to be the loss or impairment of habitat caused by children. people are constantly expanding their population and converting land.
Kenya Wildlife Services Director John Waweru spoke of the threat of “human-elephant conflict” to conservation efforts during the World Elephant Day event – which could arise when elephants attack the farmer cultivates and kills the cattle.
Human-elephant conflict is emerging as a major threat to elephant conservation and its diminishing efficiency along with increased security will require continuous conscientious efforts from KWS & Other Related party – KWS DG Brig (Rtd) J. Waweru #WorldElephantDay pic.twitter.com/6ok4tSyHoP
– KWS (@kwskenya) August 12, 2020
“Elephants are one of the natural resources that has been attracted by human greed and human need, so there we have dichotomy,” Waweru said.
In 2016, NPR reported on a comprehensive census of African elephants that the total herd declined by nearly a third between 2007 and 2014, totaling 144,000 animals lost.
NPR’s East Africa correspondent Eyder Peralta contributed to this story.