British television station ITV has alleged that half the elephants in Ruaha National Park — over 4,000 — were killed in a year.
In their article, released yesterday, they claim that ‘elephant numbers in Tanzania’s Ruaha National Park have dropped from 8,500 in 2014 to just over 4,200 now.’
ITV claims to have seen a document which is part of the Great Elephant Census, a two-year project funded by Microsoft founder Paul Allen.
They allege that the report, which is part of the largest elephant count since the 1970s, concluded that there is “compelling evidence that a major mortality has taken place” and that Tanzania has had the document since January.
ITV claims that the report says there is an ‘alarming decrease’ and numbers are ‘significantly lower’ than shown in a previous survey but does say that elephant numbers in the Serengeti are rising.
The bull elephant population, prized for huge tusks, has been reduced by 72 percent, they claim.
“The Tanzanian government received the report in January this year but has so far failed to publish it, citing the need for ‘secondary validation,'” says ITV, further stating that, “conservationists say embarrassment is a more likely reason – wildlife tourism accounts for 16 percent of Tanzania’s economy yet in some areas poaching is out of control.”
Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) has previously denied that poaching has increased in Ruaha.
“Ruaha National Park is still in good order,” says TANAPA in an August 2014 press release addressing allegations of poaching increases by an NGO.
TANAPA said the allegations by the NGO were ‘threatening the security of our national parks’ and indicated legal action would be taken against them.
Last month, researcher Dune Ives warned that the African elephant “could be extinct in our lifetime, within one or two decades, if the current trend continues.”