Name ID 1192
Africa News Online
Extract Date: 2000 January 10
Copyright (c) 2000 TOMRIC Agency.
Tanzania's elephant population has increased over the past nine years rendering the Selous Game Reserve (SGR), the leading protected area with the largest number of elephants in the world.
Basing on the research by the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI), Ms Anne Lema of the institute of education in Tanzania, says until October last year the elephant population in the reserve stood at about 60,000 from 35,000 in 1990.
Accordingly, Lema says the figure was 110,000 in 1976 down to 60,000 in 1986, partly due to Poaching incidences. In the reserve (SGR), and some other protected areas, the elephant population was reduced to as much as 25 percent, while in some was completely wiped out, she says.
Ms Lema says that an aerial survey taken in most parts of the country shows increasing population trends in the areas and even re-colonization of areas where they have been wiped out.
Up until 1950s, elephants inhabited almost 90 percent of the Tanzania Mainland, and by the 1980s their range had shrunk to less than 50 percent of the country, mostly in the Southern part of the country.
The increase in elephant population, according to TAWIRI is attributed to good management plans instituted by the government and the international community in the early, 1990s.
The internal management measures include the elephant conservation programme carried out on a country-wide basis in 1990 and the operation, 'Life' in which many poachers were arrested and large number of weapons used to kill animals were confiscated.
Loss of habital due to the growing human population is also a threat to the elephants.
'While Tanzania's human population stood at 13 million in 1974, it is over 30 million today, posing a situation where man sometimes encroaches on the bests habital,' says the TAWIRI.
The international dimension, according to the research is the ban on ivory under the Conventional International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora, CITES, of 1988. Trade in products of the elephant was put in appendix I of the CITES in 1989 which demands that any trade of the animal or part of its body be banned.
Most African countries which had lost significant number of elephants, including Tanzania, subscribed to the terms of CITES. But Botswana, Malawi, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Cameroon, Congo, Mozambique and Gabon voted against the ban stating that they did not consider their elephant populations were threatened with extinction.
But it was recently established in Tanzania that hunting of elephants have started and in the stocks there are several tonnes of ivory which the government plan to sell them. Already Japan has shown its interest to purchase them.