How On Earth Do You Count Elephants

Launch Of The First Ever KAZA-Wide Aerial Survey

What appears to be a “mammoth” task, teams from Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe will undertake the first ever KAZA-wide coordinated aerial survey of elephants. The survey will start in July – August 2022 and run for 4 months, with an expected cost of nearly US $3 million. Results from the survey will contribute significantly towards the decisions on the sustainable management of KAZA’s elephant population and elephant conservation overall.

Elephants are often in remote, difficult landscape and so the best way to count them is from aerial surveys, which can provide vital information on their status, distribution and population. They expand our understanding of animal populations, allowing us to base conservation action on scientific understanding and assist future research and monitoring. With the advent of drones, we’ve seen an increase in scientific research using unmanned aerial systems (UAS), which can only further benefit conservation efforts.

The elephant population of KAZA represents more than 50% of the remaining savanna elephants (Loxodonta Africana) found in Africa, a species recently listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as globally Endangered.

Established in 2011, KAZA encompasses the Republics of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe and covers an area of 106 million acres – roughly the size of France. The five partner countries signed a treaty to create a conservation area to protect wildlife, promote tourism, and support the socioeconomic well-being of people in the region. The goal of the KAZA TFCA is “to sustainably manage the Kavango Zambezi ecosystem, its heritage and cultural resources based on best conservation and tourism models for the socio-economic wellbeing of the communities and other stakeholders in and around the eco-region through harmonization of policies, strategies and practices.”

Threats To Elephants

Following population declines over several decades due to poaching for ivory and loss of habitat, the African forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis) is now listed as Critically Endangered and the African savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana) as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Between 2006 and 2015, Africa’s elephant population declined by 93,000 – 111,000.

Nearly 100 elephants are poached every single day.


Both species suffered steep declines since 2008 due to poaching. The ongoing conversion of elephant habitats, primarily to agricultural and other land uses, is also a significant threat to both species of elephants. The 2016 IUCN African Elephant Status Report provides the most recent reliable estimate of African elephants, at around 415,000.

In 2020, an Avocado farm project in Kenya raised serious concerns, standing directly within the Kimana wildlife corridor, through which elephants and other animals move between Amboseli National Park and the Tsavo landscape. Following the outrage that was sparked between local communities and conservation NGO’s such as Big Life and WildlifeDirect, the permit for the avocado farm appears to now be revoked – a win for elephants and communities in the Kimana area.

A key reminder that even well-intentioned people can have negative impacts on our environment and how we must always ensure sustainability and ethical standards when making buying decisions.

Mara Elephant Project

Better Safaris support Mara Elephant Project. Mara Elephant Project (MEP) envisions the existence of a stable elephant population co-existing peacefully with people across the Greater Mara Ecosystem (GME). 10 years of experience using the MEP Method of boots on the ground rangers and applied research all while taking a collaborative approach has disrupted poaching in the region and combatted conflict and habitat loss.

For every traveller booking a safari with Better Safaris, $10 per person is donated to this amazing organisation working for elephants. Learn more about Mara Elephant Project visit their website

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How On Earth Do You Count Elephants? 🐘🐘🐘 via @bettersafaris @MaraElephant #wildlife #africa #saveelephants #stoppoaching


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