Elephant Babies are on the Rise
In the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro, just southeast of Nairobi, Kenya, many at the Amboseli National Park are celebrating what they term an elephant "baby boom" as the park has seen a record-breaking number of elephant calf births so far this year - the most in its history.
Cynthia Moss, the founder of Amboseli Trust For Elephants, shares the good news, "When conditions improved in 2018, then many, many females mated and became pregnant and now we are up to 205 babies born in 2020 and we expect more because December is usually a high birth month, so we'll expect more."
Conservationists attribute the births to good rainy seasons the past two years as elephant fertility increases after heavy rains.
Moss elaborates on the situation, "We had such good rains in 2018 and 2019 that there is still a lot of grass. Usually at this time of the year, in October which is the end of the dry season, you wouldn't see anywhere near the amount of grass that is out there, but they still have quite a bit to eat, and they are doing well."
Covid-19 Good or Bad for Elephants?
Although conservation measures also see a 100% growth in elephant populations across Kenya, caution is still advised.
The Director of Biodiversity, Research & Planning at Kenya Wildlife Service, Patrick Omondi, shares his insight, "We are not out of the woods yet because there are some communities globally not in Kenya that still see value in ivory. Because ivory, and we've been having this conviction, is not medicine. Ivory serves its purpose on elephants, so those who kill elephants to get ivory, to make bangles, make necklaces just for cosmetics, they are destroying a global heritage."
The Covid-19 pandemic has been both a blessing and a curse to Kenya’s elephant populations.
Ivory trading with Chinese customers appears to have slowed in light of pandemic travel restrictions. On the other hand, illegal elephant poaching for food has risen as local communities struggle to survive without the usual tourist-generated income.
Fortunately, fears that organised poaching in Africa would spike have largely not materialised.