Kenya. Hopping into the Range Rover, our guide asked which animal we wanted to see the most. Of course, my answer was elephants. We had seen 2 the day before, but one can never see enough elephants, at least in my book.
We drove for a long time observing zebras, wildebeests, warthogs and finally, these three female elephants. And what a treat as the baby was only 3 weeks old! But why didn’t we just go straight to these amazing creatures and just spend all day with them? Surely the guides know where they are all the time?
Not really. Elephants are very hard to track and subsequently count, it turns out. You can hardly go door to door conducting a census. And on average, they travel 15 miles a day which is a lot of ground. With conservation efforts largely based on numbers of elephants in a given herd, season to season, it is important to get accurate counts.
Even with today’s technology, there are huge swings in estimates (numbers range from 400,000 to 700,000 worldwide). But beginning next year, a team of 46 scientists, led by the organization Elephants Without Borders, will try to count every elephant on the African continent using arial photography. This census information will be critical in helping us protect our elephants, hopefully giving this baby a chance to grow old and wise. Now that is cool.