Kenya carries out wildlife census in Tsavo East National Park

World Today

Kenya carries out wildlife census in Tsavo East National Park

Kenya is taking stock of its wildlife, but it is a daunting task. Poaching and drought continue to reduce the population. Now a mission is underway to count the animals from the air – one by one. 

CGTN’s Soni Methu has our story.

Kenya carries out wildlife census in Tsavo East National Park

Kenya is taking stock of its wildlife, but it is a daunting task. Poaching and drought continue to reduce the population. Now a mission is underway to count the animals from the air – one by one. CGTN’s Soni Methu has our story.

A two-week wildlife census is underway in Tsavo East National Park southeast of Nairobi.

Tsavo East National Park in Kenya is so vast – larger than several African countries combined – that the only way to conduct a wildlife census is from the air.

Eight single-engine planes are crisscrossing the park in a two-week effort to count its animals.

The last census three years ago counted 11,000 elephants, almost 6,000 buffalo, and about 3,000 giraffe. But the numbers are likely to be smaller this time.

“There has been a prolonged drought from last year,” said Erastus Kanga of the Kenya Wildlife Service.

“We’ve also seen rising incidents of livestock incursion, and this is again related to the same drought,” Kanga said.

The census area sprawls across 46,000 square miles and stretches into neighboring Tanzania.

One plane covers 600 square miles each flight, said pilot Nick Trent. They fly at 300 feet or less than 100 meters.

The census will cost $200,000. Several charities have helped the government raise the money.

Kimeli Kimitei Kenneth of the African Wildlife Foundation says his group contributed the equivalent of $20,000. That purchased equipment such as GPS-enabled cameras.

AWF is also providing 6 staff members and a bus to ferry participants.

Kenya hopes to expand the census to other parks in the country.