Tanzania steps up to protect elephants

Tanzania has launched its largest ever elephant collaring effort to protect its dwindling elephant population. Numbers have fallen by almost 90 per cent over the last 40 years.

The population of elephants in the Selous Game Reserve, a World Heritage site, has fallen by almost 90 per cent from 110,000 to 15,200 over the last 40 years.

To rebuild the population, rangers must have an enhanced ability to guard the remaining elephants from poaching.

Now, the Tanzanian government and the WWF have launched a 12-month project to satellite collar 60 elephants in and surrounding the Selous.

A proven effective measure to monitor wildlife movements and provide enhanced security, the satellite collars will enable rangers to track the elephants and to identify and act against threats in real-time.

The data collected through the collars will be available on mobile phones and will help teams predict where the elephants and their herds are moving to anticipate the dangers they may face.

It can also alert teams if the herd is heading toward community settlements to help move them away from farmlands and reduce the risk of human-elephant conflict.

“In a landscape as vast as Selous where poaching continues, better information on the whereabouts of elephants is critical to anticipate the risks they may encounter, including fatal attacks by poachers,” commented Asukile Kajuni of WWF-Tanzania in a statement.

“The collars mark an important first step in the zero poaching approach we are taking by enabling wildlife protection teams to be on the front foot against poaching attacks.”

Every year, on average, 20,000 elephants are killed for their tusks in Africa, according to WWF. In 2014, UNESCO placed Selous on its List of World Heritage in Danger due to the severity of elephant poaching in the region.

Photo credit: Jeremy Vandel/ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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