The population of elephants in Kenya’s popular Maasai Mara National Reserve has increased by 72% in the last three years.

According to an aerial survey conducted by the Kenya Wildlife Service in May, 2,493 elephants were counted in the reserve, up from 1,448 elephants in 2014.

KWS says the increase is encouraging, considering that human-wildlife conflict has been on the rise in the last few years.

The wildlife conservation agency attributes the elephants’ population rise to deterrents such as stiffer penalties for poaching as well as more rangers and surveillance equipment.

The survey also found that human activities within and around the protected areas are gradually rising.

The 2017 survey was carried out between May 15 and May 28, and covered an area of 11,681 square kilometres to give a picture of the distribution of the elephants in relation to human activities and water resources.

It was also intended to help map human activities around the wildlife protected areas to guide the management of the Mara ecosystem. Findings indicate an increase in human activities around the Mara protected areas, posing a threat to the existence of wildlife.

In Narok County, elephants in the Mara ecosystem often face the risk of retaliatory attacks from humans. More than 100 cases of human-wildlife conflict are reported annually in the County, which manages the reserve.

A pending compensation cases report from Narok County shows 11 cases of people killed by the wildlife, 33 injury cases, 62 predations, 20 acres of crops and one property destroyed last year, all awaiting compensation.

The report attributes some of the attacks on wild animals by humans to anger arising from delayed action by concerned government agencies on compensation.

A 2014 survey showed an increase from 2,058 elephants in 1986 to 7,535 in the entire Mara-Serengeti ecosystem that straddles the Kenya-Tanzania border in East Africa.

A total of 192 carcasses were counted during the survey, of which 117 were in Kenya and 75 in Tanzania. The ratio of carcasses to elephants that were alive was 2.5%.