In September 2018, UN Environment spearheaded the year’s ecosystem aerial mammal count in collaboration with the Government of Kenya, to get information on elephant numbers and trends in the ecosystem and recommend appropriate management actions.
The project was approved by the African Elephant Steering Committee and was done in Amboseli, West Kilimanjaro, and Magadi areas. The launch was attended by the Government of Kenya Officials, Kenya Wildlife Service, UN Environment, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Amboseli Ecosystem Trust and the local leaders and communities of Kajiado County.
The Amboseli and Kilimanjaro ecosystem is currently experiencing challenges of land tenure, land use system, drought and climate change, which have negatively affected the elephant population, resulting in loss and fragmentation of elephants’ habitat as well as human-elephant conflict.
The collared elephant data confirmed extensive elephant movement patterns at the boundary between Kenya and Tanzania, further noting that the migrations are mainly centred around Amboseli-Magadi areas and West Kilimanjaro-Natron in Tanzania, which constitutes the larger ecosystem.
The aerial census sought to achieve the African Elephant Action Plan objectives to strengthen range states with knowledge of African elephant management by determining elephant population trends in the ecosystem over time, identify threats to elephant conservation in landscapes, foster cross-border collaboration on elephant population monitoring and management , and suggest strategies for effective elephant management across the landscape.
UN Environment, through the African Elephant Fund programme works with African range states to reduce illegal killing of elephants and illegal trade of elephant products, maintain elephant habitats and restoring connectivity, reduce human-elephant conflict, increase awareness on elephant conservation and management of key stakeholders that include policy-makers and local communities among other interest groups, strengthen cooperation and understanding among range states, improve local communities cooperation and collaboration on African elephant conservation, and ensure that the African Elephant Action Plan is effectively implemented.