The elephant population has decreased by more than 40 percent in the Zambezi Valley in the last 13 years due to the rising scourge in poaching, a new survey released this month shows. The National Survey of the Elephant in Zimbabwe: 2014 Some Preliminary Results shows that elephant numbers decreased by about 75 percent in the combined Matusadona and Chizarira areas.
The results were presented by Mr Kevin Dunham at the Workshop to develop Elephant Conservation Policy and Management Plan for Zimbabwe early this month.
The survey is a partnership between the Great Elephant Census, a Mr Paul Gardner Allen Project and the Parks and Wildlife management Authority.
Mr Allen is the co-founder of Microsoft Corporation alongside Bill Gates.
Commenting on the survey results AWARE Trust Founder Trustee and Director of Operations, Dr Keith Dutlow said Zimbabwe could have lost more elephants to poaching as stress could have reduced population growth.
"While for example the Zambezi valley has dropped from 19 000 to 13 000 elephants since the census in 2001, we also need to remember that if you take into account that an elephant population under no stress increases at about seven percent per year, we have probably lost more than just 6 000 elephants in this area," said Dr Dutlow.
The poaching scourge that has been out of control in Central and East Africa has clearly already reached Zimbabwe with a 40 percent decrease in numbers in the Zambezi Valley and a 75 percent decrease in the combined Matusadona and Chizarira areas.
Poachers have accounted for more than 100 000 elephants in Africa in the last three years according to a report of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
In Central Africa alone where population growth averages five percent per annum the rate of poaching has been significantly higher at seven percent per annum.
Dr Dutlow's AWARE Trust seeks to pro-actively further the conservation and welfare of wildlife and wildlife habitats, with particular reference to conservation veterinary medicine, and to raise awareness of veterinary and ecological threats to wildlife species and habitats.
The Trust provides expert veterinary treatment and rehabilitation to sick or injured ownerless wild animals on a pro bono basis, especially where these animals have suffered at the hand of man.
This may include preventative treatment of wild animals at risk from disease, or pre-emptive rehabilitation of wild animals threatened by humans.
AWARE Trust performs free sterilisation, vaccination, and basic health care for domesticated animals living in poverty-stricken marginal areas at interfaces with wildlife conservation areas.
The Trust believes that improving the health and welfare of these animals improves the livelihoods of their owners, and has a positive knock on effect for wildlife by limiting the spread of disease into wildlife populations and reducing poaching in wildlife areas.