The number of endangered elephants, rhinos and other animals in Uganda's reserves is steadily improving, reversing years of declines caused by poachers, traffickers and conflict, a state-run wildlife agency said on Thursday.

The population of northern white and eastern black rhinos, that was wiped out in the early 1980s by people hunting for their horns, has grown back to 32 since a charity brought in four in 2005, the Uganda Wildlife Authority said.

Thanks to increased conservation efforts, the number of buffalos increased 77% to 44,163 between 1983 and 2021, while elephants surged nearly 300% to 7,975 over the same period, the authority added.

The East African country suffered massive declines in some species between the 1960s and 1980s as political conflict and lawlessness allowed poaching, trafficking and encroachment on wildlife areas to thrive.

Since then, the government has brought in a string of conservation policies, including lengthy jail terms for violations.

"Wildlife populations are on a steady recovery," the authority said.

There has also been an increase in the number of mountain gorillas in dense forests in the southwest, it added, a boost to the tourism industry. (Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by George Obulutsa and Andrew Heavens)