A wildlife preserve in southern Kenya renowned for its stunning views of Mt. Kilimanjaro now has a new claim to fame: An elephant baby boom.
Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak earlier this year, Amboseli National Park has seen a record 140 newborn pachyderms welcomed into the world.
In a statement, Winnie Kiiru from the Elephant Protection Initiative said the high numbers can be attributed to the lack of tourist interruptions and abundant rains that have left rich vegetation, which serves as food for the grey giants.
The mass birth announcement comes as World Elephant Day is celebrated on Aug. 12.
“Greetings from Amboseli Kenya,” said Kiiru in a statement.
“It has been a difficult year for all of us but there is still much to celebrate. Here in Amboseli, elephants are thriving. 140 beautiful calves have been born in 2020 and more are expected.”
Twin baby elephant calves are among those registered in the record tally by park officials.
Amid a dearth in tourists, the Kenya Wildlife Service has seen a spike in poaching of wildlife for game meat.
Animals are not targeted for their skin, ivory, horns, or other game products but solely for meat for local communities. This is a threat that has always followed elephants.
Kiiru noted that despite the good news in Kenya’s protected Amboseli National Park, “across Africa we face enormous challenges, due to COVID-19 there has been a collapse of tourism and the competition between humans and elephants for land has increased.”
She called on African governments to find solutions for human-wildlife conflict and raise money to repair the damage done to conservation by the coronavirus pandemic.
Cynthia Moss, director of the Amboseli Trust for Elephants, told local media, “It seems baby elephants are falling out of the sky. The ability of a female to conceive and carry a calf to term depends greatly on her own physical condition.
“During drought years, females may stop all reproductive cycling until rainfall improves, resulting in vegetation growth.”