Elephant count from the Mara-Serengeti Ecosystem

By Brendan Moyle 05/09/2014


The Serengeti-Mara ecosystem refers to a group of connected nature reserves in Kenya and Tanzania.  It includes the Masai Mara Reserve in Kenya and the Serengeti in Tanzania.

It represents an important area for elephant conservation as it very large refuge (32,000 square km) for many of East Africa’s elephants.  The latest report on population density has been published. This is of special interest in the moment.  Kenya and Tanzania are recognised as important illegal export centres for elephant ivory.  While the burden of poaching has fallen mostly on the Central African range state populations, this could easily spread to East Africa.

The survey was done by air from 19 May to 6 June.  The key points were:

  1. Elephant numbers in total have increased from 2,058 in 1986, to 7,535 in 2014.
  2. This is consistent with an increase in buffalo numbers from 54,979 to 61,896 in the same period.
  3. 192 elephant carcasses were spotted

In terms of the elephant carcasses

  • 117 where in the Kenyan region, 75 in the Tanzanian
  • Of the Kenyan carcasses, 84% were outside protected areas.
  • In the south, 27% were outside protected areas.

The overall survey numbers (from  report) are shown here.

elephant trends

Elephant numbers have in fact, declined in the north while increasing in the south.  This possibly indicates migration into the Serengeti.  This is perhaps not a surprise.  The density of elephants in the Masai Mara has plausibly had an ecosystem effect.  It can’t sustain the numbers it used to.