The Great Elephant Census is the largest pan-Africa aerial survey done since the 1970’s, and is designed to empower conservationists, governments and other organizations with relevant data about elephant populations. With better data, better decisions can be made to help protect these animals.
At the turn of the 20th century there were roughly 10 million elephants in Africa. Due to high – and still growing – demand of ivory products, elephant poaching has drastically decreased the population, but to what extent we do not know.
The census will be carried out by 46 scientists flying more than 15 planes for more than 18,000 hours over the course of seven months. On February 26, 2014, the census officially began with its first flight over Tsavo National Park. Tsavo covers an area of nearly 55,000 km2 and is home to the largest elephant population in Kenya. Tsavo’s eastern region is considered an important elephant habitat in East Africa and a barometer for elephant conversation. Over the past three years, the elephant numbers have declined from 12,500 to 11,000. Following in the footsteps of Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton’s 1975 Pan Africa Survey, Tsavo serves as an appropriate place to begin this epic count by the team led by Elephants Without Borders.