This year the elephant census crew counted 12 467 elephants in the Kruger National Park, compared to the 11 454 in 2004. Dr Ian Whyte, coordinator of the census, says the visibility was better this year due to fewer leaves on the trees, as compared to last year this time.
In 2004, the census recorded a decrease in elephant numbers, with 218 animals less than in 2003. This was partly attributed to bad visibility, especially in the Mopani area. Some elephants were also thought to have moved into Mozambique.
The census is done annually during the last two weeks in August. The same method whereby the helicopter crew follow the rivers in the Park from the Limpopo in the North to the Crocodile River in the south has been used since the first census in 1967.
Ian conducted his first census in 1984 and has continued to do so every year until now. "It is an absolute privilege to see the Park from the air every year," says Ian. "What stood out this year was the abundance of natural water still found in the veld.
Many of the smaller streams either still flowed or had pools of water," he said. The elephant and buffalo count excludes" the adjacent nature reserves such as the Associated Private Nature Reserves and Sabi Sands. A buffalo count is conducted at the same time, but the figures had not yet been finalised at the time of going to print.