Rise in jumbo population lifts tourism recovery bid

The population of elephants in Maasai Mara and Tsavo parks has increased to 15,360 elephants in three years on reduced poaching, offering a major boost to Kenya’s rebounding tourism sector.

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said the two parks had 15,360 elephants in the period between February and May, up from 12,648 in 2014.

KWS director-general Kitili Mbathi attributed the rise in jumbo numbers to effects of the tough anti-poaching laws imposed in 2014, which include a jail term of up to 20 years and fine of Sh20 million.

Poaching had surged in recent years across sub-Saharan Africa, where gangs kill elephants and rhinos to feed Asian demand for ivory and horns for use in traditional medicines.

“The number of elephants, giraffes and buffaloes grazing freely in these parks and private conservancies around them have helped shore up tourist numbers. It is a big magnet that we are committed to conserve for posterity,” Mr Mbathi said.

Maasai Mara and the neighbouring Mara Triangle had 2,493 elephants, up from 1,448 in 2014. The Tsavo ecosystem had 12,843 elephants. The longer jail term and bigger fines for wildlife poaching or trafficking were imposed to shore up tourism, a major foreign exchange earner.

Source: Business Daily