Giants Club: The great elephant census tracking slaughter across Africa


The Independent

Date Published

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There is no lack of data on how many elephants are being killed across Africa. Those numbers are known from the carcasses left strewn on the savannahs where they were slaughtered.

But, until now, there was no equivalent on how many are alive. To meet the need for accurate information about elephant populations,

Dr Mike Chase, the founder of Elephants Without Borders and a Tlhokomela trustee, together with Microsoft  co-founder Paul Allen established The Great  Elephant Census, a  high-quality aerial survey of African savannah elephants.  

The census took place in 20 countries over the past two years. It is the largest survey ever conducted for a single terrestrial species and was co-ordinated with the support of the local governments.

Already its preliminary results have encouraged Tanzania and Mozambique to increase efforts to monitor elephants, conserve their habitats and fight poaching. The continent-wide findings are to be released this year.  

Botswana-born Dr Chase has studied the ecology of elephants for nearly 20 years. “I am delighted Botswana has been able to lead this first ever continental-scale survey of elephants,” he said. “These results should serve as a baseline for future elephant surveys and will help gauge the success or failure of all future conservation projects.”