TOPSHOT-KENYA-CONSERVATION

How To Count Elephants

In Kenya, preparations are underway for an important wildlife census.

At the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, and just 160 miles from Nairobi, Kenya's Amboseli National Park stands as one of the world's premiere spots for seeing large wild animals: African elephants, lions, cheetahs, buffalos, impalas, hyenas, giraffes, zebras, and wildebeests. To keep track of how the animals are faring in the face of various threats to their well-being — drought, poachers, encroaching townships, among other things — officials are now preparing to conduct an "aerial census." Here, a few photos from their practice runs.

WATERING HOLE TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images WATERING HOLE Amboseli National Park measures 150 square miles — about the size of Denver. The last census, in 2011, was conducted in the aftermath of a severe and prolonged drought that had a major effect on the park's ecosystem and was responsible for the deaths of many animals. That report found some 1,200 elephants living in the park — down from 1,600 just three years before. LION IN THE SUN TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images LION IN THE SUN The census will be conducted over five days by technical teams who will survey the park both from the sky and ground, with the photographers on the ground trying to identify specific animals. Experts remain concerned about the populations of the large carnivores, most notably the lions, whose population has been declining by 100 every year.

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TIGHT SQUEEZE TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images TIGHT SQUEEZE An elephant grazes in Amboseli's tall grass. The previous drought hit the elephant population particularly hard as much of the usually green grass dried up, leaving the elephants without enough food. SNOWY PEAKS TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images SNOWY PEAKS At 16,000 feet, Mount Kilimanjaro, just across the border in Tanzania, is Africa's highest; its glaciers are shrinking and its ice fields disappearing.
TOPSHOT-KENYA-CONSERVATION
KENYA-CONSERVATION
TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images PINK PARADE TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images PINK PARADE LIONESS ON A ROAD SIGN TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images LIONESS ON A ROAD SIGN LOOKING FOR WATER TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images LOOKING FOR WATER THE LONG WAY HOME TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images THE LONG WAY HOME FLAMINGOES A-GO-GO TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images FLAMINGOES A-GO-GO



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