Calls for renewed commitment to protect Amboseli Jumbos amid trophy hunting

In 1995, a moratorium on trophy hunting of this cross-border elephant population was agreed upon

In Summary
  • The Amboseli elephants are a unique cross-border population shared between Kenya and Tanzania
  • WildlifeDirect says the organisation said there is an emerging threat to jumbos
Elephants are seen as wildlife recover from drought at Kimana Sanctuary in the outskirts of Amboseli National Park on November 26, 2022
Elephants are seen as wildlife recover from drought at Kimana Sanctuary in the outskirts of Amboseli National Park on November 26, 2022
Image: FILE

Conservationists have called for increased measures to protect Amboseli Jumbos.

WildlifeDirect, an organisation committed to protecting Africa's wildlife and wildernesses is seeking renewed commitment to protect elephants amidst trophy hunting concerns

The Amboseli elephants are a unique cross-border population shared between Kenya and Tanzania.

The organisation said there is an emerging threat on the elephants.

“This urgent call to action is underscored by the recent, distressing resumption of hunting activities, which have abruptly ended 30 years of respect and adherence to a bilateral agreement that successfully protected these elephants from trophy hunting,” WildlifeDirect said in a statement.

“We are appealing to the governments of both nations and the international community to immediately halt elephant trophy hunting in the Enduimet Area of Tanzania by resuming the bilateral agreement that protected these migratory animals.”

It said Tanzania honorably upheld an agreement showcasing a commitment to conservation and the preservation of our shared natural heritage.

The agreement protects jumbos from hunting for three decades

“We are immensely grateful for this period of protection, which has allowed the Amboseli elephants to become symbols of conservation success and sources of valuable scientific knowledge thanks to the dedicated efforts of the Amboseli Elephant Research Project,” the organisation said.

It said the recent issuance of hunting licenses and the subsequent killing of elephants not only threaten the legacy but also add an unnecessary burden to a species already facing immense challenges.

“In recent years, the Amboseli elephants, like many others, have been subjected to the traumas of poaching, habitat loss and human-wildlife conflict. Continuing to subject them to the horrors of trophy hunting is unconscionable; as for an elephant, the fear and trauma experienced during a hunt are no different from those during poaching incidents,” WildlifeDirect said.

Tanzania is becoming increasingly popular as an African tourist destination following its rich biodiversity and stunning landscapes.

WildlifeDirect says hunting these famous elephants, however, could damage that rise, jeopardising Tanzania's reputation as a leading tourism destination.

“We firmly believe that finding a sustainable, lasting solution to protect the Amboseli elephants could preserve and enhance Tanzania's status as a tourism hotspot, bringing greater economic benefits to local communities and ensuring the region's long-term prosperity,” it said.

WildlifeDirect said it firmly believes that future generations deserve to witness elephants in their natural habitats.

It says the protection of the Amboseli elephants is not just a matter of preserving biodiversity; it is about safeguarding a symbol of the shared commitment to a more harmonious and sustainable coexistence with the natural world.

“Therefore, we strongly urge a return to the spirit of cooperation and protection that marked the past thirty years. We call on the Tanzanian and Kenyan governments to work together, alongside international partners, to find sustainable conservation solutions that do not involve the hunting of these treasured animals," the organisation said.

"The Amboseli elephants should be celebrated as a testament to what can be achieved through collective conservation efforts, not targeted as trophies.”

WildlifeDirect urged the global community, conservationists and individuals to ensure the enduring safety and freedom of the Amboseli elephants.

Big Life Foundation, Elephant Voices and the Amboseli Trust for Elephants say in 1994 there was an international outcry when four individually known elephants, subjects of the Amboseli Elephant Research Project, were shot by trophy hunters on the Tanzanian side of the border.

In 1995, a moratorium on trophy hunting of this cross-border elephant population was agreed upon.

In late last year, however, two adult males with tusks reportedly weighing over 100 lbs, were shot south of the border in Tanzania, ending a 30-year trophy hunting moratorium.

A third elephant is reported to have been shot in the same area last month and as of March 10, a further three licences are said to have been granted, raising alarm and putting the integrity of the Amboseli elephant population in jeopardy.

The Amboseli elephant population is a cross-border population inhabiting both Kenya and Tanzania.

The ecosystem includes Amboseli National Park and the surrounding conservancies and lands in Kenya (8,000 km2) and the Enduimet Wildlife Management Area and beyond in Tanzania.

There are currently about 2,000 elephants in this ecosystem.

For 51 years, these elephants have been closely studied by the Amboseli Elephant Research Project.

It is the longest continuously running study of elephants in the world and one of the longest studies of any animal in the world.

Each elephant is known individually, has a code number or name and is documented photographically. 

Birth dates for all but a few of the older individuals are known, as are those of the mother, the family and, in some cases, the father.

A detailed database contains every elephant identified over five decades, including births and deaths and numbers over 4,000 individuals.

A linked database houses every recorded sighting.

The Amboseli data is an extraordinarily rich and important body of knowledge.

Each individual, each record is a building block that underpins this immense scientific achievement gained over the past half century.

Much of what is known about elephant behavior, communication, social structure, demography, reproduction and genetics, has resulted from this study.

There are 63 elephant families in the Amboseli population, of which 17 families, consisting of 365 members, regularly spend time in Tanzania.

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