Tanzania elephant numbers drop

2012-01-03 22:29

Dar es Salaam - The number of elephants in two wildlife sanctuaries in Tanzania has fallen by nearly 42% in just three years, a census showed on Tuesday, as poachers increasingly killed the animals for their tusks.

The census at the Selous Game Reserve and Mikumi National Park revealed elephant numbers had plunged to 43 552 in 2009 from 74 900 in 2006.

It was carried out by the east African country's wildlife authority, Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, as part of a government plan to conserve wildlife.

The rapid fall prompted President Jakaya Kikwete to order an investigation, his office said on Tuesday.

Conservationists estimate Tanzania has a total elephant population of between 110 000 and 140 000, making it one of the largest sanctuaries in Africa.

But in recent years, Tanzania and neighbouring Kenya have suffered a steep rise in poaching as criminals killed elephants and rhinos for their tusks and horns for sale in Asia.

TRAFFIC, a conservation group that tracks trends in wildlife trading, said in a statement last week that 2011 had been a record year for ivory seizure. It pointed to a surge in elephant poaching in Africa to meet Asian demand for tusks for use in jewelry and ornaments.

Elephants, the world's largest land mammals, are also under pressure in many parts of the continent from loss of habitat to humans, pollution and climate change. Their number has fallen to 470 000 - 685 000 from millions just decades ago, conservationists say.

Kikwete also ordered the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute to investigate the disappearance of the rare Roosevelt's sable antelope from national parks, and to look for ways of re-introducing the animal in at least in one of the parks, the statement said.

The last Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 2007 agreed to a nine-year moratorium on any further trade in ivory, after some 105 tons of elephant ivory had been sold from Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe to China and Japan.

  • Leonie - 2012-01-04 07:14

    Is jag verbode in Kenia? Ja daarom verminder die wildgetalle so. Verbied jag in SA en presies dieselfde gaan gebeur.

  • J.p. - 2012-01-04 09:20

    Leonie, hunting in Kenya was banned in 1977 and from then onwards their wildife numbers have dropped by 76%. I agree with Clinton, but currently Australia, Europe, USA, etc vote at CITES and they must be bloody daft if they do not realise that their approach is not working. It seems to me that every second person in the world is a specialist in African environment and wildlife and Africa will keep on loosing its wildlife if we do not take a very hard stance against people who have never been to the continent, but have a say in our environmental affairs. I strongly question the CITES after their politically and economically driven decision to allow bluefin tuna catches to continue. See also The Wildlife Society's comments on the dangers that animal rights groups hold for wildlife at

      Robin - 2012-01-04 10:27

      Wildways - CITES is a joke, and has been since its conception. Have you read Eric Hansen's "Orchid Fever"? About the best exposé I've read in years.

      Robin - 2012-01-04 11:58

      Indeed! And I have personal experience of 'goings on' relating to coelacanths and other endangered creatures from the Comoros. Scientists (though not all) and other people speak with forked tongue!

  • Robin - 2012-01-04 09:56

    No surprise when there are so many Chinese in the country!

      J.p. - 2012-01-04 10:40

      I have. An eye opener

  • Gerrie - 2012-01-04 14:08

    I believe a entrance surcharge of a US$10 000 per visit should be levied on any and all passport holders of countries where rhino horn, ivory or any other "sensitive" animal products are being smuggled to - this will create an internal problem in such countries forcing them to reconsider their disinterested approach to wildlife conservation in the rest of the world. This then will include the Sumatra rhino and any other sensitive species on planet earth. Let's see how China, Japan India and others will respond to each and every business or social tourist being affected since here in Africa we all are affected by poaching instigated by these Asian countries' citizens.

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