Following the November 2021 project launch, months of careful planning and preparation, and the successful implementation of a workshop to train and select observers in Kasane in July 2022, flying for the KAZA Elephant Survey began in the Sebungwe Region of northwest Zimbabwe on the 22nd of August 2022.
Not long after, following the mounting of high-resolution oblique digital (MWS) cameras on the planes, flying began in Kafue, Zambia on the 26th of August 2022. Plans indicate an anticipated 3 weeks to complete the northwest Matabeleland area in Zimbabwe before crossing over to Botswana where flying is expected to start mid-October 2022. In parallel, the survey operations room, hosted by the Republic of Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) is in full swing in Kasane.
Last available estimates indicated 220,000 elephants across the expansive KAZA landscape of some 520,000km², representing more than half of the remaining savanna elephants (Loxodonta Africana) found in Africa – a species Red Listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as endangered.
The survey aims to determine the numbers and seasonal distributions of elephants, elephant carcasses, and other large herbivores in KAZA. The survey protocol has been designed to comply with the revised Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) programme’s aerial survey standards. Results of the survey will inform the development of collective policy and practice concerning the world’s largest contiguous elephant population.
The KAZA Partner States comprising the Republics of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe are supporting and participating in the survey as a unified and coordinated effort. Given the magnitude of the survey, implementation is supported by an experienced technical coordination team, contractors, as well as 25 survey biologists, observers, data managers, and operations rooms technicians, largely made up of personnel seconded by the KAZA Partner States.
KAZA thanks the implementation partner, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and the following donor and international cooperation partners: the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development through KfW, the Dutch Postcode Lottery through the Dreamfund Project, USAID’s Combating Wildlife Crime in Namibia and the Kavango-Zambezi Area Project, the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the Environment and Protected Areas Authority (EPAA) of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.