On August 12, the Worlds Elephants Day, the Amboseli National Park in Kenya announced that it has welcomed 140 new baby elephants since the start of 2020 . Known for its amazing views of the Kilimanjaro and incredible savannah, the park has experienced reduced tourist interruptions and increased rainfall all year due to COVID-19, enabling the much-needed elephant baby boom to thrive.
A park official, Winnie Kiiru from the Elephant Protection Initiative said in a statement that a set of twin calves, a very rare occurrence, was registered in the recent birth count.
“Greetings from Amboseli Kenya,” said Kiiru in a statement . “It has been a difficult year for all of us but there is still much to celebrate. Here in Amboseli, elephants are thriving. 140 beautiful calves have been born in 2020 and more are expected.”
Speaking to the local media, Cynthia Moss, director of the Amboseli Trust for Elephants, said, “It seems baby elephants are falling out of the sky. The ability of a female to conceive and carry a calf to term depends greatly on her own physical condition. During drought years, females may stop all reproductive cycling until rainfall improves, resulting in vegetation growth.”
Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, the country’s tourism has plummeted greatly, and while it’s a huge blow to the economy, elephants finally have a chance to repopulate peacefully. They are bothered and poached less frequently, and luckily, this year came with abundant rains, leaving plenty of vegetation as food for the gentle beasts.
The sad reality of elephants around the world
Speaking on the countless harsh realities facing African elephants, Kiiru said, “… across Africa we face enormous challenges, due to COVID-19 there has been a collapse of tourism and the competition between humans and elephants for land has increased.”
Despite countless anti-poaching laws and policies enacted over the decades, elephants are still being relentlessly killed in Africa and Asia. The ivory tusks of the giants fetch huge sums on the international black market, and they are either used in traditional medicines or for objects of decorative purposes. Also, habitat destruction and subsistence poaching contribute massively to the decimation of a once bubbling population.
Elephants are said to have roamed the wild in millions in previous countries, but fewer than 400,000 elephants are left in the wild in Africa today . The situation is worse in Asia with an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 elephants remaining in the wild .
According to the Kenya Wildlife Service, elephants are not poached in the country for their skin or tusks but solely for meat production. The local communities live off big game meat and this has remained a serious threat to the survival of elephants in the country.
Three decades later, a positive turnaround
However, Kenya’s elephant population has seen a sort of “miracle” in recent decades. There were only 16,000 elephants in the wild in 1989. As of 2020, the number has doubled to 34,000 and counting . According to Kenya’s tourism minister, Najib Balala, this feat was partly achieved because “in the past couple of years, we have managed to tame poaching in this country.”
The rangers are doing an excellent job of keeping poaching at a bare minimum. So far, in 2020, 7 elephants have been poached. While it’s still a sad reality, it’s an improvement compared to the 34 killed in 2019 and over 80 killed in 2018, most of which were driven by the quest for ivory.
Here’s what you can do to help save elephants :
1.Don’t buy new ivory. Ivory trade is banned internationally. You may buy antique ivory but we must report persons or businesses marketing new, authentic ivory. An innocent elephant had to die for that.
2. Insist on elephant-friendly coffee and wood. Ensure that your timber is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and patronize only coffee shops that sell fair trade coffee.
3. Virtually adopt an elephant. Since it’s unrealistic to bring a giant beast into your home, you can become the distant parent of an elephant. You’ll occasionally receive adorable pictures and videos while funding the animal’s welfare from your location. You can check out any one of these organizations with fully functional adoption programs: World Wildlife Foundation, World Animal Foundation, Born Free, and Defenders of Wildlife.
4. Support conservation efforts. Hundreds of experts, caregivers, and researchers have dedicated their lives to preserving the world’s elephant population. You may not be able to participate directly, but you can move the conservation and support the noble cause through donations. See some organizations below:
- International Elephant Foundation
- Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
- African Wildlife Foundation
- Amboseli Trust for Elephants
- Andy Corbley. There’s an Elephant Baby Boom in Kenya: Thanks to Rainfall, a Record Number Born Including Rare Twins. Good News Network https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/elephant-baby-boom-in-kenya-thanks-to-rainfall/ Retrieved 17-08-2020
- Andrew Wasike. Kenya wildlife park sees elephant baby boom. AA. https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/kenya-wildlife-park-sees-elephant-baby-boom/1939402 Retrieved 17-08-2020
- The status of African elephants. World Wildlife. https://www.worldwildlife.org/magazine/issues/winter-2018/articles/the-status-of-african-elephants#:~:text=In%202016%2C%20experts%20estimated%20that,just%20415%2C000%20elephants%20across%20Africa. Retrieved 17-08-2020
- Asian Elephant. National Geographic. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/a/asian-elephant/#:~:text=The%20Asian%20elephant%20is%20classified,elephants%20left%20in%20the%20wild. Retrieved 17-08-2020
- Elephant: Kenya’s elephant population has doubled in 30 years. BBC UK. https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/53771950 Retrieved 17-08-2020
- Melissa Breyer. 6 Ways to Help Elephants. Tree Hugger. https://www.treehugger.com/ways-to-help-elephants-4864223 Retrieved 17-08-2020
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