Africa Sustainable Conservation News

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Africa Wildlife and Conservation News, Central Africa, East Africa, Elephants, Southern Africa

Trying to save Africa’s elephants

Washington Post

August 8 at 6:00 AM

A team of wildlife veterinarians uses a vehicle and a rope to turn over a tranquilized elephant so they can attach a GPS tracking collar and remove the tranquilizer dart at Mikumi National Park, Tanzania. (Ben Curtis/AP)

Two young elephants play in Mikumi National Park. (Ben Curtis/AP)

According to the World Wildlife Fund, between 20,000 and 30,000 African elephants are killed each year. They are mostly killed for their tusks, which are sought after in Asia. To help curtail elephant poaching, the WWF has teamed up with the government of Tanzania in a program to collar elephants in that country’s Selous Game Reserve area. With the help of satellite collars, the program is monitoring 60 elephants in an effort to better protect them against poachers.

The collars are fitted with technology that receives information from satellites. That information can be accessed by rangers on their mobile phones. This helps rangers track the elephants’ movements so that they can help them if they enter an area where a lot of poaching has happened or if they drift into human settlements. The program is the largest collaring effort that has been carried out in Tanzania.

In March, the Associated Press took a look at how the collaring program is working. The AP  traveled to the Selous Game Reserve and its neighboring Mikumi National Park. The AP says that, according to the Tanzanian government, the area saw a decline in its elephant population of 60 percent to 43,000 between 2009 and 2014. Most of the killings happened in the Selous-Mikumi area.

The AP also found that the effort to save elephants is working, at least partly. It reported that killings of elephants have started to decline, and some of the herds that had previously been devastated have shown signs of recovery. While this is a positive turn of events, there is still a lot of work to be done because there is still an illegal market there that is hungry for ivory. According to the AP, “it’s far too early to declare a turnaround. Poachers are moving to new areas, and traffickers are adapting, aided by entrenched corruption. The rate of annual elephant losses still exceeds the birthrate. And the encroachment of human settlements is reducing the animals’ range.”

Wildlife veterinarian Ernest Mjingo, center, runs as an elephant starts to charge toward him after being darted with a tranquilizer. (Ben Curtis/AP)

A small herd of elephants is seen from an airplane in Mikumi National Park. (Ben Curtis/AP)

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