As part of the Great African Elephant Census, TAWIRI conducted an aerial elephant census in the Selous-Mikumi ecosystem (includes Mikumi National Park, Selous Game Reserve, Kilombero Game, Controlled Area, WMAs, Selous-Niassa-Corridor and open areas) from 6th to 26th of October 2014 in collaboration with Wildlife Division, Tanzania National Parks Authority, Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority and Frankfurt Zoological Society. Main objective was to assess population status of African elephant and to determine their distribution and population trends. Using systematic reconnaissance flight technique an area of 105,730 km² was covered.
The results indicate that elephant are widely found in Selous Game Reserve while in Mikumi National Park elephants are concentrated in central part of the park. The 2014 census estimated 15,217 ±1800 elephants in the entire ecosystem. The current result reaffirms the decline of elephant population in the Selous-Mikumi Ecosystem as also shown in the 2013 census (13,683 ±1,967). These are the lowest estimates since monitoring started in 1976. High elephant densities were observed in two-sub population in Matambwe area and Likuyu-Sekamaganga area (Southern Selous GR).
A total of 590 elephant carcasses, representing all four-carcass classes, were recorded in the survey giving an estimate of 10,013 (± 711 SE) elephant carcasses for the ecosystem. Results indicate that most of counted carcasses were not new (aged between 30 and 120 months), suggesting that fewer elephants were killed in the last 18 months. A high proportion of carcasses were found in Selous Game Reserves, followed by Liwale, Masasi and Mikumi National Park.
- The current result has shown that no difference in population size from that of the 2013 census.
- The 2014 census therefore affirmed the decline of elephant population in the Selous-Mikumi Ecosystem as shown in the 2013 census.
- The 2014 census extended the survey area to Mahenge, [w]est of Selous Game Reserve, which have a potential for conservation of elephants. The government needs to consider a certain level of protection status of this area.
- The elephant carcass[es] particularly stage 1-3 are indicating a slowing down of the elephant mortality in the ecosystem.
- Selous Game Reserve remains important area for the conservation of African elephant in the Selous-Mikumi Ecosystem.
- Elephants were not seen in Kilombero GCA for the second consecutive census.
- Population of Masasi i.e., GCA and Lukwika-Lumesure Game Reserve needs immediate attention as only 1 elephant was counted. High numbers of carcass were counted which increases speculation of poaching might have wiped [out] the population or [elephants] migrated to Mozambique [Niassa GR].
Source: Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute TAWIRI
The full report “Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, 2015 Aerial Elephant Census in the Selous-Mikumi Ecosystem, Dry Season, 2014. TAWIRI Aerial Survey Report” can be obtained from Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, Conservation Information and Monitoring Unit, P.O. Box 661, Arusha, Tanzania, Tel: + 255 27 2544448, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.