Despite unprecedented losses all around, Uganda’s elephant population continues to increase.
By Vicki Croke Follow @VickiCroke
Uganda’s doing something right elephant-wise. While elephants, besieged by poachers across so many African nations, are dying in the tens of thousands every year (it’s estimated that 96 elephants are killed in Africa each day), a new aerial survey shows that their numbers are increasing in Uganda. And the gains are significant, especially for a species for whom reproduction is such a slow process. The population, which was estimated at 1,000 in 1985, now stands at 5,000, according to just-released figures from The Wildlife Conservation Society, which supported the survey. The aerial survey is part of “The Great Elephant Census,” a two-year effort, conducted by the group Elephants without Borders, to compile accurate information on elephant numbers and distribution across nearly two dozen African countries. (The survey is funded by Paul G. Allen, a Microsoft co-founder.) Rampant poaching in the 1970s and ‘80s decimated Uganda’s elephant population and drove the animals into the confines of more protected parks. But the tide began turn in the 1990s. Even as other countries have struggled, the Uganda Wildlife Authority and conservation partners, including WCS, began to gain some traction in saving elephants.
Conservationists credit better protection in key parks as well as government support as important factors in the turnaround for elephant management in this country…