Dar es Salaam to Johannesburg
Selous at ground level - Protecting the elephants
Selous Game Reserve is internationally renowned for being one of the most important habitats for elephants in Africa; it was once home to the largest population of elephants in the world.
At their peak in 1976, African elephants in Selous numbered more than 110,000 – a tenth of the world’s population at the time; however, numbers were decimated during the late 20th century due to rampant poaching for their ivory.
In just a decade, huge numbers of elephants were killed for their tusks; by 1989 there were only 30,000 elephants left in Selous.
The Tanzanian government and wildlife organisations subsequently undertook concerted efforts to protect Selous and Tanzania’s elephants from poachers, so that by 1998, numbers had more than doubled to 67,000.
Worldwide, the illegal ivory trade has slashed elephant numbers from more than a million to around 400,000 since the 1980s and numbers continue to decline, but the protection of Selous has allowed numbers in the reserve to steadily increase once more.
An important step in the protection of these majestic animals is the extension of the protective boundary of Selous Game Reserve to connect with the neighbouring Niassa Game Reserve in northern Mozambique.
The extension covers a natural migration corridor that has been used by the elephants for millennia to travel between the Niassa and Selous regions in search of food, shelter and mating.
The Selous-Niassa Wildlife Corridor stretches for 170 kilometres connecting the two reserves, which share very similar habitats.
The corridor allows for the continual movement of animals between the two reserves while maintaining high levels of protection; in fact, the corridor is not just an area of transit for the elephants, as at least 2,000 elephants have been observed living permanently in the corridor itself.
Though poaching is still a threat to elephants worldwide, the numbers of elephants in Selous are hoped to soon reach 1976 levels once again thanks to the vital protection the reserve offers.