You are currently viewing KAZA elephant aerial census spends three weeks northwest of Zimbabwe
File image

KAZA elephant aerial census spends three weeks northwest of Zimbabwe

A five-country Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) elephant aerial census is underway in the northwest Matabeleland area in Zimbabwe, where it is expected to take three weeks, before crossing over to Botswana where flying is expected to start mid-October 2022.

KAZA TFCA straddles Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, which represent 70% of the remaining savanna elephants on the African continent, covering 520,000 square kilometres.

The KAZA region is conducting a joint aerial survey using light aircraft.

Member states hope that the survey’s results will contribute significantly towards the decisions on the sustainable management of KAZA’s elephant population.

The survey being conducted in Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, started in July – August 2022 and runs for 4 months, with an expected cost of nearly US$3 million.

“The survey is a fundamental component of the KAZA Strategic Planning Framework for the Conservation and Management of Elephants. It is also one of the action points of the 2019 Kasane Elephant Summit and a directive by our Heads of State,” Executive Director in the Namibia’s Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Tourism Teofilus Nghitila, said in past comments.

The KAZA TFCA elephant population is the largest contiguous transboundary elephant population in the world, inhabiting KAZA’s diverse landscape which is home to an estimated population of two million people.

In a statement on August 31, KAZA said “following the November 2021 project launch, months of careful planning and preparation, and the successful implementation of a workshop to train and select observers in Kasane in July 2022, Flying for the KAZA Elephant Survey began in the Sebungwe Region of northwest Zimbabwe on the 22nd of August 2022.”

“Not long after, following the mounting of high-resolution oblique digital (MWS) cameras on the planes, flying began in Kafue, Zambia on the 26th of August 2022.”

“Last available estimates indicated 220,000 elephants across the expansive KAZA landscape of some 520,000km², representing more than half of the remaining savanna elephants (Loxodonta Africana) found in Africa – a species Red Listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as endangered.”

The survey aims to determine the numbers and seasonal distributions of elephants, elephant carcasses, and other large herbivores in KAZA.

Results of the survey will inform the development of collective policy and practice concerning the world’s largest contiguous elephant population.

“Given the magnitude of the survey, implementation is supported by an experienced technical coordination team, contractors, as well as 25 survey biologists, observers, data managers, and operations rooms technicians, largely made up of personnel seconded by the KAZA Partner States,” KAZA further said in a statement.