KAZA TFCA preps for large-scale elephant survey


Ellanie Smit, Namibian Sun

Date Published

Preparations for a Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA)-wide synchronised aerial survey have been stepped up to determine accurate numbers and seasonal distributions of African elephants found in the landscape.

This was announced by the KAZA TFCA secretariat last week in celebration of World Elephant Day.

The KAZA TFCA spans five southern African countries: Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

“We cannot imagine a world without elephants given their incalculable importance to the ecosystems, livelihoods of approximately 2.5 million people living in the KAZA region and the socio-economic development of partner states. The partner states are committed to and prioritise the creation of safe havens for elephants,” secretariat executive director Dr Nyambe Nyambe said.

KAZA’s evolving conservation success story – as evidenced by the stable and, in some areas, growing elephant populations – has been the result of deliberate policies, decisions and actions by the partner states. 

The KAZA secretariat is also pleased that significant progress has been made in preparing for KAZA-wide synchronised aerial survey to determine numbers and seasonal distributions.

“As the KAZA secretariat, we appreciate the importance and magnitude of the survey. We are taking the necessary measures to ensure that there is effective coordination and management. The support being rendered by different stakeholders is encouraging and strengthens our confidence that the survey will be successful, on time, and within budget,” Nyambe said.

Launching Soon

To date, key milestones achieved in preparation for the survey include the development of a standardised methodology consistent with the recently revised Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) aerial survey standards (CITESMIKE 2020) and securing nearly 80% of the approximately N$43.1 million budget required, he said.

Partner states are set to officially launch the survey during the fourth quarter of this year, with the actual survey implementation scheduled for the dry season, July to October 2022.

The survey aligns with and builds on partner states’ recognition that connectivity across the broader KAZA landscape is essential for the future of the region’s wildlife, including elephants, and this must be underpinned by sound ecological understanding of wildlife movements and other dynamics.

The latest elephant surveys indicate a population of at least 220,000 across the five KAZA countries, with 85% concentrated in Botswana and Zimbabwe. It is estimated that there are about 24,000 elephants in Namibia.