African elephants are facing unprecedented levels of extinction risk. From the 1970s to the 1980s, ivory trade was rapidly expanding and wiped out about half of Africa’s 1.3 million elephants.
Much more recently, between 2007 to 2014, the Great Elephant Census reported a 30% decline in elephant population – equivalent to a loss of 144,000 elephants from a population of 480,000. Today, there are approximately 352,271 elephants remaining in 18 African countries. Despite being remarkably adaptable creatures, elephants are decreasing year by year due to poaching, loss of natural habitat, and human conflict.
Lewa offers a safe haven for elephants within the conservancy. Depending on the season of the year, Lewa is home to about 400 migratory elephants.
We regularly monitor the state of elephant populations across the conservancy and across Northern Kenya, collaborating with a host of partners, including Save The Elephants, the Kenya Wildlife Service and the Northern Rangelands Trust.
Alongside from joint-patrols, together with our partners, we often identify a number of elephants and place non-invasive tracking collars on them. These tracking collars provide us real-time information on elephant location, giving us insights on herd movement and behaviour. The tracking devices also allow us to quickly identify and respond to threats, such as poaching or human-wildlife conflict.
To help reduce incidents of human-wildlife conflict and to prevent the disruption of elephants’ historic migration routes, Lewa has taken steps to provide safe passage for the species. We have built an elephant underpass that bypasses the busy Meru-Nanyuki highway, an area where elephants often encounter human activities.
Lewa also educates local inhabitants about the importance of elephants as a keystone species. This improved understanding of the value of preserving wildlife enables Lewa to work with communities in diffusing human-wildlife conflict and improving conservation outcomes for elephant