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Elephant Conservation Kenya Census

Wildlife conservation Kenya: the KWS’s report on the country’s first national wildlife census

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A few weeks ago, we published an article detailing how we helped in the first nation-wide wildlife census Kenya had ever done. The Tsavo Trust volunteered one of our Super Cub Aircraft for the incredible endeavour organised by the Kenyan Wildlife Services.

We are immensely proud to have played a part in this census. With its findings, conservationists in this country will have a broader, more comprehensive picture of the present state of conservation here. That is essential if we are to take stock. It is equally important if we are to be able to move forward and assess conservation results in the future.

If you want to read more about the mechanics of the census as relating to Tsavo in particular, you can access our previous article here.

It is a really interesting write-up and documents how the varied organisations involved split the Tsavo Conservation Area into transects and how teams of observers and pilots trained in aerial reconnaissance were applied in compiling the census.

Kenya is, however, a large and variedly-shaped country. Different methods of assessment were required for each of the country’s different ecosystems. As in Tsavo, aircraft were often used but so too were ground teams – counting individual animals as well as conducting dung analysis –, drone operators and, in wetland areas, boats.

Fine-tuned organisation was absolutely necessary. The varied teams involved and operating under the KWS’s organisation managed to cover a total 343,380 squared kilometres. It was an extraordinary feat of communal enterprise and the KWS must be commended for their work in building and managing this project.

Since playing our part, we have awaited the results eagerly. They were published on the 31st of August and the full write-up of results can be found on the KWS’s website by following this link.

If you don’t want to read through the KWS’s complete document (we strongly recommend that you do) and are accepting of our abridged evaluation, satisfy yourself with the knowledge that many of the species we have long worried for here in Kenya are definitely recovering in terms of population size.

At a glance results from Kenya’s wildlife census:

Elephant – 36,280 (endangered)

Lion – 2,589 (endangered)

Cheetah – 1,160 (endangered)

Painted dog – 865 (endangered)

White rhino – 842 (endangered)

Black rhino – 897 (critically engendered)

Hirola – 497 (critically endangered)

Roan antelope – 15 (critically endangered)

Bongo – 150 (endangered)

The Kenya Wildlife Service’s report, how this census is a statement of intent and a plan for the future of Kenya’s conservation efforts:

How the document elucidates on its goals and objectives is telling. We’ve already mentioned how this census is essential for our present understanding of the country’s wildlife and even how current information will help conservationists looking forward.

However, in the goals and objectives section, this forward looking agenda is further expanded upon. This census, according to the report, had an experimentative element to it. It was an assessment of “current resource capacity for undertaking wildlife censuses” and an assessment of how effective drones are in operations like this.

This forward-thinking, experimentative approach is very encouraging. It illustrates a desire to get ahead of conservation and keep ahead of it. It also, quite clearly, suggests at the fact that these censuses will come more regularly in the future.

We don’t need to tell our regular readers how important the maintenance of accurate records are for the effective management of Kenya’s wildlife numbers.


The KWS report presents many reasons to be optimistic about the state of Kenya’s wildlife. It does, however, also expand on the changing nature of the threats posed to it. If you are interested, and if you follow us on social media you probably are, we strongly recommend to read the document in full.

The KWS has, these last two decades, made itself into an example of effective wildlife management organisation and this document is a great example of the attitudes, hard-work and ingenuity that has made it so.

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