Ugandans Walk to Save Dying Elephants


Joseph Kato, The Monitor

Date Published

Ugandans on Friday joined the rest of the regional states in a campaign to save elephants whose number is declining in the country. The walk which started from Uganda Wildlife Authority offices, through Yusuf Lule Road, Wampewo Avenue will end at Kololo Independence Grounds in Uganda’s capital Kampala.

The walk, according to permanent secretary ministry of Tourism and Wildlife James Lutalo, is intended to create awareness about elephant protection. The campaign is spearheaded by Mr Lutalo and Mr Joseph Bedach, from Kenya Wildlife Services.

The campaign started three months ago in Kenya, followed by Tanzania, Rwanda and now in Uganda.

According to results of a study released in September last year, the population of savannah elephants declined by 30 per cent between 2007 and 2014. There are roughly 400,000 savannah elephants left and that number is falling by 8 percent per year, according to the survey.

Great Elephant Census, the team that carried out the survey, gathered detailed statistics over two years by flying over and counting herds of elephants as they roam the plains. Dead elephants were counted too. A “carcass rate” (the ratio of living to dead) of more than 8 percent indicates poaching at a high enough level to cause the elephant population to decline. According to a recent report by The Guardian, other research has come up with similarly bleak findings. A 2014 scientific study estimated that 100,000 elephants were killed for their ivory between 2010 and 2012.

The rest of Africa’s elephants are forest elephants and they are by definition harder to count. Another study released this week found these creatures to be one of the slowest reproducing mammals. According to the survey, even if poaching stopped tomorrow, it might take over 90 years for forest elephants to recover to their 2002 population.

“This is largely due to poaching,” says Chris Thouless, a conservationist who works with Save the Elephants (STE) as a strategic adviser and who contributed to the status report. Across the continent, elephant poaching is happening on an industrial scale.