KAZA Survey to protect world’s largest elephant populations
Zorena Jantze, Informante
November 16, 2022
Over the past nine years, a total of 334 elephants have been poached in
Albeit a high number, the poaching numbers have gone down significantly in
the country. Statistics from the environment ministry revealed that in the
year 2022, only four elephants were poached in the country to date.
This is a significant decrease from past statistics that showed that a
total number of two elephants were poached in 2021, 11 in 2020, 13 in 2019,
27 in 2018, 50 in 2017, the highest of 101 in 2016, 49 in 2015 and 78 in
To better protect these endangered species and keep account of the many
challenges they face, Namibia collaborated with four of its neighbouring
countries, Angolo, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and concluded the
Kavango–Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) Elephant Survey.
The survey aims to determine the numbers and seasonal distribution of
elephants and elephant carcasses and other large herbivores. A draft report
on the survey findings will be released in February/March 2023.
Dr Nyambe Nyambe, the Executive Director (ED) of KAZA and KAZA TFCA
Secretariat, explained that the long-term conservation of KAZA’s elephant
population is important, but has suffered from the absence of coordinated
elephant management approaches among the five Partner States and a lack of
reliable data on this population, its abundance, range, distribution and
Nyambe explained that existing data are based on individual estimates,
derived from national aerial surveys undertaken in each of the KAZA
countries (Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe).
This, he said, is problematic since these country datasets cover different
time periods and do not cover the entire KAZA elephant range.
“Due to cross boundary movements, it is most likely that some elephants
might have been counted twice and others not at all during these disparate
individual country surveys,” Nyambe shared.
He further stated that the long-term survival of this meta-population is
linked to connectivity in the landscape across the international boundaries
of the KAZA Partner States, adding that such connectivity is essential for
the future of KAZA’s elephants and must be underpinned by the collection
and sharing of information of elephant in the existing Wildlife Dispersal
Areas and beyond.
Nyambe also added that there is a need for sufficient suitable habitat for
both forest and savanna elephants.
“Both forest and savanna species have suffered sharp declines since 2008
due to a significant increase in poaching, which peaked in 2011, but
continues to threaten populations. The ongoing conversion of their
habitats, primarily to agricultural and other land uses, is another
significant threat. Nevertheless, savanna elephant numbers have been stable
or growing in KAZA, which harbours the largest savanna elephant population
on the continent,” Nyambe said.
The ED of KAZA concluded the management of the elephants requires a
coordinated transboundary approach by all five Partner States, whereby all
elephants in the landscape are recognised as part of one transboundary