Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has launched a seven day wildlife census in Maasai Mara ecosystem to take stock of the population distribution, migration and trends of the animals.

Speaking to Tupo, Narok County Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Senior Warden, Dickson Ritan said KWS in conjunction with the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI), Narok county government and wild wide fund for nature (WWF) will conduct a total aerial count of elephants in the Serengeti-Mara Ecosystem.

“The objective of this count is to establish the total number of elephants and buffaloes in the ecosystem. The exercise will be undertaken between today, May 15 and 28,” said Ritan.

He said it is a routine exercise to establish the state and position of our wildlife, and the exercise will enable the service direct necessary resources towards dealing with the issues affecting various wildlife species.

The census will cover an area of 12,500 square kilometers in the Serengeti-Mara Cross- border landscape areas in Kenya and Tanzania.

According to the last census contacted three years ago, the famous Maasai Mara Game Reserve and other conservancies in Narok County is home to about 3,000 elephants.

The Mara ecosystem is the fourth most important elephant area after Amboseli, Tsavo and Samburu, hence the importance of the head count.

A rhino in its natural habitat in Maasai Mara. KWS to carry out a census in Maasai Mara ecosystem

The census will help the service determine the level of poaching and make relevant decisions on how to curb the menace.

Narok County is known worldwide due to its famous Maasai Mara Game Reserve with its spectacular wildebeest migration from Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to Maasai Mara and has been touted as the eighth wonder of the world, attracting thousands of tourists to the country each year between July and September to see this spectacular migration.

The County largely depends on tourism as over 60 per cent of its revenue comes from tourism. The Maasai Mara brings in the bulk of this revenue for the county which earns in an estimated Sh.10billion from tourism each year.

It is home to thousands of wildlife including the big five in the famous Maasai Mara and other Wildlife conservancies in the county.

Over 300,000 visitors visit Maasai Mara each year, bringing in this much required revenue.

The wildlife census comes amid reports indicating that poaching is on the increase in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve and other wildlife sanctuaries in Narok County for meat, ivory and other trophies.