As the first rays of dawn break over the vast Maasai Mara on June 19th, an unprecedented and monumental task will commence—the 2024 Kenyan National Wildlife Census. This landmark exercise, spanning the nation, aims to establish a comprehensive picture of the nation’s iconic wildlife populations. It serves as a vital conservation tool, underscoring Kenya’s commitment to preserving its unparalleled natural heritage.

The 2024 Kenyan National Wildlife Census is a significant continuation of the inaugural nationwide effort in 2021. This first census provided invaluable insights into the status of Kenya’s diverse array of species. It covered an incredible 343,380 square kilometres—a staggering 59 per cent of the country’s total land mass. The 2024 census, building on this foundation, aims to further our understanding and commitment to preserving Kenya’s rich biodiversity.

Assembling an Army for Conservation

The 2024 Kenyan National Wildlife Census is a testament to the power of collaboration and dedication towards wildlife conservation. It brings together hundreds of researchers, park rangers, and community members who have all undergone rigorous training. Their unwavering commitment, combined with the use of helicopters for aerial surveys, ensures an accurate count and underscores the importance of this mammoth task.

The National Wildlife Census provides valuable insights into our ecosystems’ well-being and the challenges our wildlife faces. The data enables informed decision-making and the implementation of focused conservation measures to protect Kenya’s diverse wildlife for the future.

Lessons from the Inaugural 2021 Census

The 2021 census provided a wealth of insights, establishing baseline data for numerous species across Kenya’s diverse landscapes. Among the iconic giants, the count revealed over 36,000 elephants, nearly 900 black rhinos, and an awe-inspiring 842 white rhinos—a testament to the success of anti-poaching efforts. Lions, too, maintained a strong presence, with over 2,500 individuals recorded.

However, the census also highlighted areas of concern. The Grevy’s zebra and hirola antelope showed modest increases, but there were alarming declines in other plain game species, highlighting the need for focused conservation efforts.

A Glimmer of Hope Amidst Challenges

One of the most striking stories from the 2021 census was the sighting of two northern white rhinos—the last of their kind. It reminded us of the urgent need for conservation and the severe threat of extinction to iconic species.

Despite the challenges, the 2021 census found more than 13,500 Maasai giraffes and recorded 1,160 cheetah sightings, showing that these species are thriving. These success stories are not just numbers. They are a beacon of hope, showing that with our concerted efforts, we can protect and preserve our wildlife.

A Rallying Cry for Conservation

As the 2024 census gets underway, it represents far more than numbers on a page. It calls for the global community to appreciate Kenya’s wildlife and commit to protecting these natural treasures. Your involvement and commitment are crucial in this global effort.

“The census is a powerful reminder that we are mere custodians of this incredible heritage,” reflects Kenyan wildlife advocate and author Benson Kondo. “It is our responsibility to ensure that future generations can experience the awe-inspiring sight of a lion prowling the Mara or a herd of elephants making their ancient migratory journey.”

The 2024 Kenyan National Wildlife Census captures every sighting and data point, painting a picture of Kenya’s flourishing wild beauty.