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Aerial elephant survey results to inform conservation initiatives

Aerial elephant survey results to inform conservation initiatives

Story by Tichaona Kurewa

THE Kavango–Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA)-initiated survey has established that the region is home to over 220 000 elephants.

KAZA comprises Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Results of the first-ever KAZA coordinated aerial survey on the elephant population in the region are out, following a survey conducted over 12 months from August last year under a collaborative effort of KAZA member states – Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Reading out the communique at the official launch of the survey results in Livingstone, Zambia this Thursday, Zambia’s Minister of Tourism and chairperson of the KAZA ministerial committee, Honourable Rodney Sikumba indicated that member states should plan accordingly using the results.

“The survey confirmed that KAZA is home to an estimated 227 900 elephants up from 216 970 from the 2014/15 survey. This should help member states to make informed decisions in conservation efforts including helping human-wildlife conflict victims,” he said.

For other member states, the survey results vindicate the region’s call for the international community to lift the ban on ivory trade and other wildlife species.

Zimparks Director General, Dr Fulton Mangwanya said, “Policies will be crafted based on proven statistics, we now have facts to argue our case at CITES. No one should argue against our call for sustainable harvest of our wildlife.”

“The survey results will help even in law enforcement and intensify the campaign to bring together agriculture and conservation,” said Botswana’s Minister of Environment and Tourism, Honourable Philda Nani Kereng.

Within the KAZA region, Botswana has the highest population of jumbos at just below 132 000, with Zimbabwe coming second with an estimated 65 000 elephants.

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