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Elephants in Uganda

There are around 5,000 elephants in Uganda today. They are mostly found in the landscapes of Kidepo, Murchison-Semliki, and the Greater Virunga Landscape.

Despite the widespread decline of elephants across Africa in recent years, one nation has reported a rising population.

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Elephants in Uganda have increased by 600 percent, to more than 5,000 individuals, from a low of 700 to 800 in the 1980s, reports a survey in May  by the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Great Elephant Census, and the Uganda Wildlife Authority. BBC

Elephants were once plentiful across the East African country, but rampant poaching fueled their decline. The Wildlife Conservation Society cited better protection across Uganda’s ten national parks as a major factor in their recovery.

Despite the increasing numbers, elephants in Uganda still face poaching pressure, particularly in Queen Elizabeth National Park, which now has 2,913 elephants, the report noted. And Uganda has continued to be a stopover for international smugglers, who may take advantage of local corruption.

controversial court ruling returned three tons of ivory to traffickers in March 2014—a decision made after a judge bought the defendants’ argument that the ivory had been legally imported that may also embolden smugglers.

National Geographic spoke with Oliver Wonekha,  Uganda’s ambassador to the United States, about the ways elephants are recovering in the country.

A recent survey suggests that elephants are increasing in Uganda, while they’re decreasing across much of Africa. So what is your country doing differently?

In our recent past we had a lot of political turmoil, and during that time there was a lot of poaching. The wildlife really suffered.

The current government takes wildlife crime very seriously because wildlife is an important part of our tourism industry, which is now our biggest earner of foreign income. Wildlife trafficking is also a security issue, because terrorist groups use it to fund their operations.

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