In Plane Sight – The Great Northern Kenya Wildlife Count Takes Off!

On November 20th, approximately 15 aircraft took to the skies marking the beginning of the 9-day Great Northern Kenya Wildlife Count. Pilots, observers, conservationists, county and national government representatives attended the opening ceremony presided by Judy Wakhungu – Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Environment, Natural Resources and Regional Development Authorities, and acting Director General of KWS, Julius Kimani.

This very important census will systematically survey the counties of Laikipia, Samburu, Isiolo, Marsabit, and parts of Meru county from the air. The collated information will then be compared to past aerial survey counts of wildlife, livestock, land use, and human settlements. Comparing the information helps us to evaluate the success of our landscape and species conservation efforts and will provide us with information on where we might concentrate future conservation resources.

During the flagging-off of airplanes at Shaba National Reserve, the CS called for stronger collaboration between county governments when looking to implement action driven agendas in support of our natural resources that include rangelands and wildlife. “Our wildlife and the management of our natural resources know no boundaries. We must all work together in protecting our Kenyan heritage. It is very encouraging to see such an effort being made”, said CS Wakhungu.

The start of the survey also represented a great opportunity for those of us in conservation to share accomplishments as well as engage with colleagues from neighbouring counties. We would like to thank the following organisations for participating in the exhibition.

  1. Born Free Kenya
  2. Ewaso Lions
  3. Giraffe Conservation Foundation
  4. Grevy’s Zebra Trust
  5. Laikipia Wildlife Forum
  6. Lewa Wildlife Conservancy
  7. Marsabit County
  8. Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership
  9. Mount Kenya Trust
  10. NRT
  11. NRTT
  12. The Great Grevy’s Rally 2018
  13. Save the Elephants
  14. Space for Giants

KWS, DRSRS and volunteer pilots with their planes, as well as observers, will be working tirelessly over the next 9 days to complete the exercise. This KWS led initiative is supported by the US Government through USAID, and will see a total count of elephants, buffaloes, Grevy’s Zebras and Reticulated Giraffe in the greater northern landscape of Kenya.

This year’s count will focus on these four charismatic and endangered species in an effort to establish their total numbers. The Great Northern Kenya Wildlife Count includes an area of more than 65,516.96 sq. kilometres and will take 9 full days (at a minimum) to cover by aircraft.

Northern Kenya is singularly one of Kenya’s great wildlife conservation areas. Wildlife survives here because of the support of its residents, including land use that encourages or tolerates wildlife.

For more information, please contact Dr. Shadrack Ngene at

LWF will be keep you updated on the results of the count. Stay tuned.




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