The Great Elephant Census Country-by-Country Findings
Michael Chase
02 September 2016

The following is a listing of country-by-country findings from the Great Elephant Census (GEC). For each of the 18 countries flown to-date there is a listed GEC elephant count – the number of live elephants counted during the Census – and a carcass ratio, percentage of dead elephants observed during the count. Carcass ratios of more than 8 percent are considered to indicate poaching at a high enough level to cause a declining population. For more on how to interpret carcass ratios see below. Additionally, any high level observations for each country area are listed where applicable. Where relevant, observations reference each country’s most recent historical baseline data.


GEC elephant count: 3,395

Carcass ratio: 30%

Observations: Since 2005, African elephant populations in Angola have declined by 22 percent. A high carcass ratio indicates a likely increase in poaching.

GEC elephant count: 130,451

Carcass ratio: 7%

Observations: The population decreased by 15 percent since 2010.

GEC elephant count: 148

Carcass ratio: 83%

Observations: Without intervention, it is possible that the small, rapidly declining population here could go locally extinct.

GEC elephant count: 743

Carcass ratio: 17%

Observations: The population in Zakouma National Park is now stable after great losses before 2010. The Binder Lere Reserve population lost 44 percent from 2010 to 2014.

GEC elephant count: 1,959

Carcass ratio: N/A – not reported.

Observations: Since 2010, this area saw the second fastest population decline of any country in the dataset.

GEC elephant count: At least 799

Carcass ratio: N/A – not reported

Observations: Elephants were not located where they were expected to be. Because of this, the general area was examined, but a scientific count was not conducted. The Census observed human encroachment in Babile Elephant Sanctuary and an unexpectedly large elephant population in Omo.

KENYA (includes: Laikipia-Samburu, Tsavo-Amboselli and Masai Mara)
GEC elephant count: 25,959

Carcass ratio: 13%

Observations: Relatively stable population

GEC elephant count: 817

Carcass ratio: 2%

Observations: Positive trends in two parks.

GEC elephant count: less than 253

Carcass ratio: 10%

Observations: Part of herd may have been missed. Without intervention, it is possible that the small population here could go locally extinct.

GEC elephant count: 9,605

Carcass ratio: 32%

Observations: There was a rapid population decline of 53 percent in five years.

GEC elephant count: 17,433

Carcass ratio: N/A – South Africa did not report a carcass ratio.

Observations: Stable population.

GEC elephant count: 42,871

Carcass ratio: 26%

Observations: There was a rapid population decline of 60 percent in 5 years.

GEC elephant count: 4,864

Carcass ratio: 0.5%

Observations: Population numbers have increased from the less than 800 elephants that survived the height of poaching in the 1970s and 1980s.

W-ARLI-PENDJARI COMPLEX (includes: Niger, Burkina Faso and Benin)
GEC elephant count: 8,911

Carcass ratio: 9%

Observations: Population has doubled since 2003 estimate.

GEC elephant count: 21,758

Carcass ratio: 85% ratio in Sioma Ngwezi National Park; 3% for the rest of Zambia

Observations: There were substantial declines along the Zambezi River, but other areas were stable.

GEC elephant count: 82,304

Carcass ratio: 8%

Observations: The Census showed mixed results. Overall, the population was down 6 percent. Within the Sebungwe region, populations were down 74 percent.


Carcass Ratio Findings  

  • A carcass ratio is the percentage of dead elephants observed during the count. For example, a carcass ratio of 10 percent indicates the survey team recorded one dead elephant for every 10 live elephants that were counted.
  • Carcass ratios must be used with caution because observers can miss carcasses as they are hard to see, and carcasses decay and disappear at different rates in different climates. Carcasses are often underestimated.
  • However, on average, a carcass ratio of more than 8 percent indicate poaching at a level high enough to cause a declining population.
  • The carcass ratio for the entire GEC was 11.9 percent, indicating a declining population continent-wide.
  • Highest carcass ratios occurred in:

o   Cameroon (83 percent)

o   Mozambique (32 percent)

o   Angola (30 percent)

o   Tanzania (26 percent)