Tanzania: Jumbo, Hippo, Zebra Numbers Up - Report

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Hippo.

TANZANIA recorded a slight increase of elephants and a considerable surge in zebra and hippopotamus populations in the Selous-Mikumi ecosystem between 2014 and 2018, a new report shows.

The report of the aerial wildlife census that was conducted between October and November 2018 covering 27 wildlife species indicates that elephants have increased by 284, zebra 6,190 while number of hippopotamus rose by 7,843.

It covered a total area of 104,143 km² that embrace Mikumi National Park, Selous Game Reserve, Kilombero Game Controlled Area and Selous-Niassa wildlife corridor.

Current statistics from the report have it that, the surveyed area has 15,501 elephants, up from 15,217 that were recorded in the previous study conducted in 2014.

This means that there is no further decline in the elephant population in the Selous-Mikumi ecosystem, and that the stabilising of the number of elephants combined with few incidences of fresh carcasses indicates that poaching has been brought under control.

While the number of zebra has increased from 16,190 in 2014 to 22,690, the number of hippopotamus has also risen to 31,086 from 23,243 recorded in 2014.

Announcing the findings yesterday, Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Dr Hamisi Kigwangalla said there was also a decline in the carcass ratio from 39 per cent in 2014 to 16 per cent of the current report.

"A total of 2,966 elephant carcasses were counted in the surveyed areas, among these 81 per cent were very old (more than three years) and only 19 per cent were old of up to three years. No new carcasses (less than one year) were recorded," said the minister.

This, according to Dr Kigwangalla, indicates significant management intervention of curbing poaching and that more efforts and time is needed to reach a carcass ration of 8 per cent, which represents natural mortality.

Further statistics have it that, the surveyed area has the estimation of 66,564 buffalos, 23,250 hartebeest, 22,740 wildebeest, 19,296 impala, 17475 warthog and 11,021 duikers.

"Also, eland are 5541, sable 5921, reedbuck 4,223, greater kudu 3035, giraffe 1858, puku 1,579 just to mention a few," he added.

The just released report has it that number of buffalo in the surveyed area has declined from 81,554 estimates of 2014 to 66,546, with the minister mentioning human activities, invasion of game reserve areas and poaching as the possible causes for the drop.

He pointed out that the report provides information on abundance and distribution of several large animal species and human activities within the ecosystem.

The minister said: "The survey was very crucial as it provides useful information for conservation, policy formulation and tourism; such information includes identifying important elephant and other species hot-spots, their seasonal distribution and abundance."

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