The Elephants of Nsumbu.
Elephants are the most iconic land animal on earth. Their huge size, intelligence and social behavior give these sentient beings a special place. Elephants once roamed throughout the African continent and further and numbered in the millions. Sadly Man’s hunger for their ivory and meat has decimated populations throughout the world and Nsumbu is no exception. Once estimated to contain several thousand elephants as well as being part of a wider elephant habitat that extended from the shores of Lake Tanganyika to the hinterlands of the Congo, Nsumbu National park has become the last refuge of this isolated and unique populations. Official published numbers estimate that Nsumbu holds between 5 and 50 elephants. Elephants in nearby Mweru, Southern DRC, Lusenga plains and migrant populations between DRC and Zambia have all sadly been exterminated.
At first glance the situation seems lost. Indeed it was the killing of elephants that spurred the creation of Conservation Lake Tanganyika in 2012 and our dedication to ensure they endure along the shores of Lake Tanganyika is what drives the passion behind CLT.
But elephants are as determined as we are to be here and it is our greatest reward and relief to find that the elephant population in Nsumbu is much higher than previously thought.
CLT and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife formed out entire law enforcement efforts around protecting the remaining elephant population. The devastating image above was taken in 2012 and thankfully was the last major elephant poaching incident on record in Nsumbu. It spurred efforts at revamping the anti poaching units, providing much needed new blood, equipment and resources. Astoundingly it seems the dense Itigi forests of Nsumbu NP that have made accurate counts so difficult have also provided a vital retreat for threatened wildlife. With the protection provided by our efforts for the first time in possibly decades elephants began to emerge in daylight hours, finally feeling safe enough to be seen. We estimate that there are at least 150 elephants in Nsumbu National Park today, a high number of young animals indicates the herds are breeding and their fear of humans is reducing.
Protecting elephants by the very nature of their behavior means vast areas need to be patrolled by anti poaching teams. Protecting elephants in Nsumbu means protecting the entire habitat and every living plant, animal, bird and fish that lives there. That is why we believe ensuring elephants continue to exist on the shores of one of the most ancient lakes on earth is critical to its preservation and provides a symbol of what is possible.
Our Elephant Protection activities are proudly supported by:
The images below are all taken in recent past in Nsumbu National Park and are all the recognition we need as Conservation Lake Tanganyika (CLT)