Why count elephants? Having accurate and reliable data about elephant population numbers and distribution is needed to form long-term conservation management plans.

About the Census

The Great Elephant Census is designed to provide accurate and up-to-date data about the number and distribution of African elephants by using standardized aerial surveys of tens of hundreds of thousands of square miles. Dozens of researchers flying in small planes will capture comprehensive observational data of elephants and elephant carcasses. Our standardized method of data collection and review, including validation by an independent TAT adviser, ensures all data is impartial and accurate. 

In many countries, surveys have not been flown in as many as 10 years, and without this data, it is challenging to assess the current state of elephant populations. There has not been a pan-African census in over 40 years, and none were completed using a standardized process and an independent validation process. Additionally, the existing data isn't well organized.  Time spent debating elephant numbers is time wasted. The resulting database will provide valuable information to governments, scientists, NGOs and all wildlife stakeholders in Africa so they can make strategic decisions on how to manage and protect elephant populations. 

partnerships are key

The Great Elephant Census was conceptualized by Elephants Without Borders, and is supported by other organizations and individuals on the ground in Africa and globally including African Parks, Frankfurt Zoological Society, Wildlife Conservation Society, The Nature Conservancy, IUCN African Elephant Specialist Group, Howard Frederick, Mike Norton-Griffith, Kevin Dunham, Chris Touless and Curtice Griffin. 

when will it be complete?

Since February of 2014, our partners have surveyed elephants and other large herbivores in 15 of 20 countries. The remaining flights will be completed by 2016. This will account for about 80 percent of the savanna elephant range and allow us to count roughly 90 percent of Africa's savanna elephants. Our TAT advisers analyze and validate the data, and our end goal is to submit the final Census for publication and make it available to support efforts in animal and land conservation. We will also be exploring how new technologies can improve on established aerial survey methods and allow for enhanced data gathering. Leveraging cutting-edge technology to gather open-source data that can enhance research is a key attribute of Paul Allen's initiatives, including the Allen Institute for Brain Science