In what is great news for elephant conservation, Kenya's elephant population has more than doubled from 1989 to today. The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) announced the development at an event at Amboseli National Park to mark World Elephant Day 2020, which is heartening because Africa only has 500,000 elephants today compared with 1.3 million in the 1970s.

KWS has revealed that while there were only 16,000 elephants in Kenya in 1989, the number grew to 34,800 by the end of 2019. According to tourism minister, Najib Balala, the situation has been helped by the fact that the country has managed to "tame" poaching in recent years, by issuing greater fines and stronger jail terms for those convicted of the offense. As a result, seven elephants have been poached in Kenya in 2020, compared with 34 in 2019 and 80 in 2018.

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According to KWS director general, John Waweru, World Elephant Day presents a platform for creating awareness on the threats to African and Asian elephants, such as habitat loss, land use pressure, illegal killings of elephants for both meat and ivory and human-elephant conflicts. “It is fortunate that Kenya has a conservation and management strategy for elephants in place to guide elephant recovery strategies, which has seen a more than 100% growth in Kenya’s population from 16,000 in 1989 to 34,800 by end of 2019,” he said.

African Elephants and cub drinking at a river
Kenya is launching the Magical Kenya elephant naming campaign © Miguel Sanz/Getty Images

Kenya is also launching the Magical Kenya elephant naming campaign, an annual festival whose objective will be to collect funds to support the rangers tasked with deterring poachers. Further information on the elephants can be found on the KWS website here.

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