This report summarises the aerial count of elephants conducted in the Gourma landscape, Mali, during June 2015. The survey was conducted using a low-winged Socata Rallye MS 893 (25.7 hours flying time) and ground reconnaissance. 253 elephants were recorded within the 15 125 km² area. It was speculated that a further 40 elephants may be present, based on unverified reports by local people.
This population of 253 elephants represents a decrease from the population of 344-404 elephants estimated in the last aerial survey in 2007 by Bouché (Ph. Bouché 2007).
14 elephant carcasses were found within the study area and a further 14 outside it. The majority of the carcasses were of poached elephants.
The report notes that the first cases of poaching started to be reported in 2012, according to the Mali Elephant Project, and that the number of elephant deaths has more than doubled from 2014 to the first six months of 2015, due mainly to the increase in poached elephants.
The report states that the sample was neither random nor systematic throughout the entire Gourma region, but was concentrated in areas where local people and previous reports indicated the elephants would be concentrated at this time of the year. However, since the migration pattern suggested by these sources was strongly supported by GPS data and previous aerial counts, and aerial coverage of the region was vast, this population estimate can be considered as a reliable figure.
Source:Dias, J., Soumanou, M., Dicko, A., & Ouedraogo, H. (2015). Gourma Elephants Survey, Mali, 2015 (p. 21). Wildlife Conservation Society, New York.