Every year has its own collection of defining moments. We had high hopes that 2020 would be our best year. But it seems that we jinxed it, because 2020 has easily become the most traumatizing year with its bushfires, volcano eruptions, raging pandemic, its haunting death toll and all-around chaos. If only we could close our eyes and wake up in 2021, right? But we shouldn’t write off this year as the worst, because there are still good things happening in the world, despite everything. Take for example Kenya’s triumph in doubling their elephant population!
Elephants are among the largest animals to ever walk the earth. However, their population shrank so much that they became an endangered species because ruthless poachers would murder them for their ivory tusks. Trophy hunters have also had a hand in the plummeting number of elephants. In 1989, Kenya reported that there was only 16,000 elephants left. This alarming decline prompted the Kenyans to take an aggressive approach to protect their gentle giants. And now, 31 years later, their efforts have paid off!
Kenya has successfully doubled their elephant population after more than three decades
The rousing update was announced by Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Director John Waweru when he visited the Amboseli National Park on August 12th, which happens to be World Elephant Day. According to the officials, their efforts to tame poachers in the country played a significant part in doubling the number of elephants over the past three decades. “In the past couple years, we have managed to tame poaching in the country,” Najib Balala, Kenya’s Tourism Minister, said in the event. The country has been consistent in making it clear that they were no longer going to tolerate the ruthless actions of poachers. Kenya has been lauded time and time again for their innovative initiatives when it came to bringing poachers to justice.
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta made headlines when he turned 15 tons of poached elephant tusks and rhino horns to ash in 2015. It was a clear message to poachers what President Kenyatta thought about their trade. Three years later, specially-trained sniffer dogs were enlisted in the country’s wildlife crime taskforce. Their addition helped Rangers nab more poachers and put them out of business. Then, the Rangers installed cameras around conservation sites so they can see how the animals are doing in real time.
They’ve launched a campaign to support the Rangers too
“Today we are also launching the Magical Kenya Elephant Naming Campaign, an annual festival whose objective will be to collect funds from the naming, to support Rangers’ welfare.”
Wildlife Rangers play a very important role in Kenya’s success in protecting their wildlife. They not only bring poachers to justice through crack downs, but also act as armed guards for elephants and other endangered species. This job is not easy or safe. Rangers and poachers often clash. And sometimes Rangers get injured or worse. So it’s just as important to take care of the elephants’ guardians! Thanks to their efforts, only 7 elephants were poached this year. Their single digit casualty count for 2020 is very good news, compared to the 34 they lost in 2019 and the 80 victims stolen away in 2018. KWS Director John Waweru continued his update by saying that
“It is fortunate that Kenya has a conservation and management strategy for elephants in place to guide elephant recovery strategies, which has seen more than 100% growth in Kenya’s population from 16,000 in 1989 to 34, 800 by the end of 2019.”
Elephants need a lot of time to re-populate
“This year alone, about 170 elephant calves have been born.”
You might think that the doubling of the population to be slow. But you’ve got to keep in mind that elephants have the longest gestation period among mammals. On average, an elephant cow gestates for around 640 to 660 days or 95 weeks! Najib Balala was happy to report that there were many elephant calves born this year. I don’t know about you, but this news had us smiling. It’s wonderful to know that the number of elephants has doubled thanks to Kenya’s conservation efforts. We’re already looking forward to learning about more good news like this!