Tuesday, September 29, 2009
How many elephants are in the wild?
How many elephants are in the wild? The Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute intends to answer this question in the near future. The Arusha-based institute has plans to conduct a census aimed at coming up with the right number of elephants in the country.
"We are normally required to conduct these censuses every three years. This times however we intend to also engage other wildlife centers and institutions," revealed Mr. Bakari adding that of late there have been massive killings of elephants in Tanzania either by poachers or people who claim that the jumbos have been destroying their farms and crops.
"As a result, the number of elephants is rapidly falling and the animals could well be on the verge of extinction that is why we have to act promptly in saving these jumbos," maintained the TAWIRI researcher.
"Elephants can easily be controlled and prevented from invading farms or human residences without necessarily resorting into hurting or killing them," said Mr. Bakari.
"Ordinary peppers drive the elephants as well as other types of wild mammals away and if farmers living near National Parks or Game reserves surround their farms or households with pepper plants they won't suffer invasions from wild beasts, besides they can always use pepper for food or sell it as cash crop for added benefits," he pointed out.
The number of elephants according to official records at TAWIRI dropped from 110,000 in 1976 to 60,000 in 1986, partly due to poaching incidences. In the reserve (SGR), and some other protected areas, the elephant population was reduced to as much as 25 percent.
Up until 1950s, elephants inhabited almost 90 percent of the Tanzania Mainland, and by the 1980s their range had shrunk to less than 50 percent of the country, mostly in the Southern part of the country.
While the number of elephants being killed by poachers, hunters or irate villagers is rising, the TAWIRI researcher warned that at the moment, this is also the season during which the jumbos are reproducing fast, which means some of these animals especially females with calves may turn out to be extremely aggressive, same case applies to male jumbos during mating seasons.