Tanapa now to monitor jumbos through satellite (Tanzania)


IPP Media (Guardian)

Date Published

The Tanzania National Parks has launched a special programme to tag 30 elephants in the Ruaha National Park and Rungwa Game Reserve commonly known as the Great Ruaha landscape to be monitored through the use of satellite system.

This is part of the Tanapa’s initiatives to obtain information on the seasonal movements of elephants within the Greater Ruaha landscape.

A survey carried out in the Ruaha-Rungwa ecosystem between April and December, last year showed that more than 10,000 jumbos disappeared in the ecosystem, while in the 2013 census there were more than 20,000 elephants in the area.
In 2013 census there were around 20,000 jumbos in the area, but after the latest exercise (April and December) last year only slightly over 8,000 elephants were recorded.
The Global Environment Facility in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme has committed funds to support the programme.
The team of conservation experts led by Dr  Alfred Kikoti placed collars on elephants.
The Director General of Tanzania National Parks Allan Kijazi said the elephant monitoring exercise through satellite in Great Ruaha landscape was meant to obtain information on the seasonal movements of elephants within Greater Ruaha landscape.
“This will also contribute to the establishment of landscape conservation corridors and dispersal areas for better elephant protection,” he said.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through TANAPA/ Strengthening the Protected Area Network of Southern Tanzania (SPANEST) Project has contracted World Elephant Centre to tag 30 elephants with satellite GPS collar units to monitor activity patterns, local and regional movements.
All units will have an inbuilt mortality sensor, in case a fitted elephant is killed a researcher will be informed.
The 30 Satellite GPS units will be distributed among core areas, Wildlife Management Areas and Game Reserves in the landscape. “These units will provide information on the extent and distribution of elephant movements in the landscape,” Kijazi said.
“Similarly, information on the seasonal movement patterns of elephants will provide information on the role of dispersal in maintaining Greater Ruaha elephant populations which will help rangers to plan more informed patrols outside the core protected area.”
Other stakeholders participating in the collaring programme include Wildlife Division, Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, Conservation NGOs and local communities.
The move came at the time when the number of elephants in the country kept on plummeting due to poaching.
The latest Census revealed that there are 43,521 elephants in the entire country with Tanzania reported to have lost nearly 70,000 jumbos in the last five years.
The estimates for 2009 documented that Tanzania had around 110,000 jumbos, placing the country in the second position after Botswana, which by then had close to 150,000 elephants.
However, the number of elephants in Tanzania, according to the latest census report, has drastically dropped from over 100,000 estimated five years ago, down to the current 45,000 average, indicating a loss of more than 60 percent in the country’s elephant population.
Costing US$ 900,000 to undertake, the ‘Great Elephant Census’ covered all of Tanzania’s key elephant eco-systems as part of the initiative funded by Paul G. Allen to assess the current state of elephant populations across the African continent.
The Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI) conducted the exercise in conjunction with the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS).