Elephant survey shows fewer carcasses

13 October 2020 | Environment

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK



An aerial survey of elephants conducted last year in the Zambezi and Kavango regions reported fewer elephant carcasses than previously.

This indicates that fewer elephants were being poached.

Wildlife counts were conducted in various areas including national parks, conservancies and private land by the environment ministry during 2019/2020.

This was done for monitoring and research as well as to guide the ministry on issues of game capturing, translocation and sustainable utilisation.

According to the ministry's annual report for 2019/2020, an aerial survey of elephants and other wildlife in the Zambezi Region and the Khaudum National Park and surrounding areas was conducted in September and October last year.



Khaudum National Park

A total of 12 008 elephants were estimated for the Zambezi Region.

“Although not statistically significant, the number of elephants estimated in the 2019 survey is less than the 2015 estimate.”

However, the report says that considerably fewer elephant carcasses were observed in the 2019 survey, indicating reduced mortality rates in the Zambezi elephant population.

It says that could be a result of increased anti-poaching efforts by the ministry and its partner organisations.

More elephants were observed in the Khaudum National Park and the surrounding areas in 2019 compared to a survey conducted in 2013.

“This increase in number is greater than what is expected from the natural reproduction, suggesting elephants may have moved into the survey area from elsewhere.”

The report says that elephant mortality rates in the Khaudum National Park and the surrounding areas were observed to be very low during the survey and it suggests the absence of poaching in the area.



Waterberg Plateau Park

Aerial surveys were also conducted in the Waterberg Plateau Park and the Mangetti National Park to assess the status of wildlife in these two areas.

Waterberg is managed for the conservation of species of high conservation and economic value whereas Mangetti supports important wildlife species that occur in the woodland systems of the Kavango Region.

An increase in the number of buffalo was observed at Waterberg during the survey despite the prevailing drought conditions. There was also a cull of more than 100 buffalo in 2018/2019.

“Recommendations were made to manage the buffalo numbers in the park at levels that are not detrimental to other wildlife species in the park and the neighbouring livestock producing farmers and communities.”



Zebras thrive

Increases in the numbers of eland were observed at both Waterberg and Mangetti. Populations of zebra in Mangetti were also observed to be higher than required by the park management and recommendations were made to relocate excess zebras to other localities to improve the conservation and socio-economic potential of these areas. Annual conservancy game counts were conducted in conservancies in north-western Namibia in the Erongo and Kunene regions during May 2019.

A total area of 6.9 million hectares was covered during the game counts.

Reduced population estimates were observed for mountain zebra and springbok whereas increasing trends were observed for kudu, ostrich and steenbok. No changes in trends were observed for gemsbok compared to the 2018 counts.

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