Latest Laikipia-Samburu Wildlife Census Reveals Significant Increase in Wildlife Population
Last week, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), in close partnership with local and international partners, conducted an aerial census of elephant and Grevy’s zebra populations in the Laikipia-Samburu region. The census revealed that the elephant population has increased by approximately 5 percent since the last census in 2002, and the Grevy’s zebra population an estimated 13 percent.
The census took six days. The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy provided an airplane for the survey, as well as a full-time pilot. Aerial support is one of the many ways that Lewa has been collaborating with KWS in the last 20 years.
The numbers are extremely encouraging. The elephant population now stands at 7,468, from 5,400 five years ago. The Grevy’s zebra population stands at 2,623, up from previous estimates of 2,300. It is important to note that the majority of these populations were found outside protected areas, and inside community conservancies, most of which are under the umbrella of the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT). In West Gate Conservancy for example, an astonishing 480 Grevy’s were counted. In Il Ngwesi and Lekurruki Group Ranches, the team found 1,200 elephants, more than ever in that area.
This demonstrates that, the future of wildlife in Northern Kenya requires support and engagement from local communities. Engaging communities is the only way to retain an ecosystem approach to conservation, allowing continued migration of wildlife through their natural range. This is particularly important for species such as Grevy’s zebra and elephant that have large home ranges and require access to large tracts of land.