One of Africa's largest wildlife preserves is marking a year without a single elephant found killed by poachers, which experts call an extraordinary development in an area larger than Switzerland where thousands of the animals have been slaughtered in recent years.
Monitoring of the vast reserve with aerial surveys and foot patrols remains incomplete and relies on sampling, however.
Aggressive poaching over the years had cut the number of Niassa's elephants from about 12,000 to little over 3,600 in 2016, according to an aerial survey.
Anti-poaching strategies from 2015 to 2017 reduced the number killed but the conservation group called the rate still far too high.
"It is a remarkable achievement," James Bampton, country director with the Wildlife Conservation Society, told The Associated Press.
The last time an elephant in the Niassa reserve was recorded killed by a poacher was May 17, 2018, he said.
Still, a year that appears to be free of elephant poaching in the sprawling reserve drew exclamations from some wildlife experts. »