A census of elephants in the Masai Mara ecosystem in May this year counted 2,493 elephants, a significant increase from the the 1,448 animals recorded in a similar survey in 2014, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) reported.

The 72.2 per cent increase is very good news considering the threat Mara elephants are under due to poaching for trophies and killing in incidents of human-elephant conflict. Migration from the Serengeti ecosystem could also have contributed to the high number of elephants recorded during the 2017 aerial survey.

Overall, there was an average elephant density of 0.21 elephant per square kilometre. A total of 45 elephant carcasses (26 very old; 18 old and 1 recent carcasses) were seen during the

survey, representing an overall carcasses ratio of 1.8 per cent for the Mara ecosystem.

A total of 9,466 buffalo were also counted compared to 7,542 recorded over the same season in 2014, representing a 26 per cent increase in their numbers. The distribution though remains the same.

Some 2,607 giraffes were seen in 2017 compared to 1,619 counted in 2010, which represents a 61 per cent increase.

More giraffes were observed in the Conservancy region (1,682 giraffes), while the Mara Triangle had the least number giraffes counted (143). The Dispersal area

recorded the second highest number of giraffes (490), while the total number of giraffes observed in the Mara Reserve was 292.

The results of 2017 show an increase in human activities within and around the protected areas. These include electric and plain wire fencing and tin-roofed households in the

ecosystem, which pose a threat to the wildlife habitat.

The aerial survey was supported by several partners including Kenya Wildlife Service, Narok County Government, World Wildlife Fund – Kenya, Tsavo Trust, and Olaro Conservancy.