By Tichaona Kurewa
AN aerial survey to determine the number of elephants in the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) which includes Zimbabwe has ended, with preliminary results expected by the end of the year.
The aerial survey, which began in August, also seeks to determine the seasonal distribution of the elephants and other large herbivores in the region.
KAZA authorities have indicated that the preliminary analysis will be complete by next month.
“With the survey flying completed, the project now moves towards the data analysis phase. Plans are to complete a preliminary analysis in November/December of this year, and finalisation of a draft report on survey findings in February/March 2023, following which a process of peer review will begin,” Said KAZA Executive Director Dr Nyambe Nyambe.
The survey is key for planning purposes in the wake of an increase in cases of human-wildlife conflict amid revelations that 46 Zimbabwean lives have been lost to human-wildlife conflict as of the first of November this year.
“We had several challenges in the region such as human-wildlife conflict and this survey is part of efforts to find lasting solutions to this problem as directed by Heads of State in Kasane in 2019. A total area of 312,000km² across KAZA has been covered by survey flying, with a total of 697 flying hours undertaken by eight aircraft. As per the survey methodology, flying took place during the height of the dry season to ensure maximum visibility through tree canopies, with an average height for flying of 300ft (91m),” he added.
This is the first-ever coordinated KAZA aerial elephant survey and it is a collaborative effort between Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Statistics indicate that KAZA is home to approximately half of Africa’s savannah elephants, estimated at 220 thousand and spanning over five Southern African countries.