Survey Update Ethiopia: People Dominate Elephant Sanctuary

Babile Elephant Sanctuary (ES). Ethiopia’s flagship elephant conservation area (7000 km2), believed to have 300 elephants, the last remaining population in the Horn of Africa, and suspected to be genetically distinct. 

Babile Elephant Sanctuary

Babile Elephant Sanctuary

The pilot and I had an argument over whether we were actually in the sanctuary when the photo below was taken. Yes, in fact, we were in the heart of the sanctuary which was inundated with people, and not what I was expecting. 

An ocean of agriculture: 90% of the sanctuary is settled by people: 

After 60 hours of flying and searching for elephants in the sanctuary we spotted just a few dozen elephants. We collared one adult cow (leading the herd below). In the Sanctuary, we estimated 40,000 camel, 200,000 cattle and 450,000 goats, we did not see any notable herds of wildlife. 

The small gray box on the lead elephant is the tracking collar. 

The small gray box on the lead elephant is the tracking collar. 

One the run. The elephant bull below had cracked and raw feet, we suspect caused by living on the run. 

The cracked feet of an elephant bull. 

The cracked feet of an elephant bull. 

What we found in this region of Ethiopia illustrates the value of our effort to create an up-to-date assessment of elephant populations across the continent that can be used as a tool for those seeking to preserve them. 

Our next update will be from Ethiopia's Omo Valley.