Due to a crackdown on poaching, Kenya’s elephant population has grown exponentially over the last three decades.
Finally, some good news in 2020, who would’ve thought it?
Over the last three decades, poaching and the ivory trade has had a devastating impact on the elephant population all over Africa. In 1989, Kenya’s elephant population was down to just 16,000.
That number has since increased to nearly 35,000 according to Director John Waweru of the Kenya Wildlife Service. Waweru announced the good news during a trip to Amboseli National Park on World Elephant Day.
The growth in Kenya’s elephant population can be largely attributed to the anti-poaching measures implemented by the Kenyan government. These included harsher jail sentences and major fines for anyone involved in poaching, smuggling or animal trafficking.
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, has made a very conscious effort to counteract these issues, even taking more extreme measures from time to time. For example, in 2016 Kenyatta burnt thousands of rhino horns and elephant tusks in order to convey the government’s stance on the trade.
Rangers have also played a more pivotal role over the last 30 years, protecting the elephants at all costs.
Fortunately, the new measures are paying off and fewer elephants are being targeted each year. This year, a total of seven elephants have been poached in Kenya, compared to 34 last year and 80 in 2018.
At the World Elephant Day event, the tourism minister Najib Balala said that Kenya had “managed to tame poaching”. He also revealed that “This year alone, about 170 elephant calves have been born.”
While Kenya has had a breakthrough in terms of elephant conservation, the numbers across Africa as a whole are far less promising. Less than 30,000 elephants remain in the wild today, compared to the 1.3 million that roamed Africa in the 1970s.
Hopefully, other governments will follow in Kenya’s footsteps and put effective measures in place to protect these beautiful animals.