Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

Rules of habitat use by elephants Loxodonta africana in southern Africa: insights for regional management

  • Grant M. Harris (a1) (a2), Gareth J. Russell (a3), Rudi I. van Aarde (a4) and Stuart L. Pimm (a4)
Abstract
Abstract

Managers in southern Africa are concerned that continually increasing elephant populations will degrade ecosystems. Culling, translocation and birth control are flawed solutions. An alternative is providing elephants more space but this hinges on identifying landscape preferences. We examined two diverse ecosystems and uncovered similarities in elephant habitat use, expressing these as ‘rules’. We considered arid Etosha National Park, (Namibia) and the tropical woodlands of Tembe Elephant Park (South Africa) and Maputo Elephant Reserve (Mozambique). Landscape data consisted of vegetation types, distances from water and settlements. To surmount issues of scale and availability we incorporated elephant movements as a function that declined as distance from an elephant's location increased. This presumes that elephants optimize trade-offs between benefiting from high-quality resources and costs to find them. Under a likelihood-based approach we determined the important variables and shapes of their relationships to evaluate and compare models separated by gender, season and location. After considering elephants' preferences for areas nearby, habitat use usually increased with proximity to water in all locations. Elephants sought places with high proportions of vegetation, especially when neighbouring areas had low vegetative cover. Lastly, elephants avoided human settlements (when present), and cows more so than bulls. In caricature, elephants preferred to move little, drink easily, eat well, and avoid people. If one makes more areas available, elephants will probably favour areas near water with high vegetative cover (of many different types) and away from people. Managers can oblige elephants’ preferences by supplying them. If so, they should anticipate higher impacts to neighbouring vegetation.

Copyright
Corresponding author
§Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, Duke University, PO Box 90328, LSRC A322, LaSalle St Extension, Durham, NC 27708, USA. E-mail grant_harris@fws.gov
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Y. de Beer , W. Kilian , W. Versfeld & R.J van Aarde . (2006) Elephants and low rainfall alter woody vegetation in Etosha National Park, Namibia. Journal of Arid Environments, 64, 412421.

R.E. Hoare & J.T Du Toit . (1999) Coexistence between people and elephants in African savannas. Conservation Biology, 13, 633639.

B.F.J. Manley , L.L. Macdonald & D.L Thomas . (1993) Resource Selection by Animals: Statistical Design and Analysis for Field Studies. Chapman & Hall, London, UK.

J.J. Millspaugh & J.M Marzluff . (2001) Radio Tracking and Animal Populations. Academic Press, San Diego, California.

R.C. Morley & R.J van Aarde . (2007) Estimating abundance for a savanna elephant population using mark–resight methods: a case study for the Tembe Elephant Park, South Africa. Journal of Zoology, 271, 418427.

S.L. Pimm & R.J van Aarde . (2001) Population control: African elephants and contraception. Nature, 411, 766.

R.J. van Aarde , I. Whyte & S.L Pimm . (1999) Culling and the dynamics of the Kruger National Park African elephant population. Animal Conservation, 2, 287294.

G. White & R Garrott . (1990) Analysis of Wildlife Radio-tracking Data. Academic Press, New York, USA.

E.A. Archie , C.J. Moss & S.C Alberts . (2006) The ties that bind: genetic relatedness predicts the fission and fusion of social groups in wild African elephants. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 273, 513522.

S. Chamaillé-Jammes , H. Fritz , M. Valeix , F. Murindagomo & J Clobert . (2008) Resource variability, aggregation and direct density dependence in an open context: the local regulation of an African elephant population. Journal of Animal Ecology, 77, 135144.

G. Wittemyer , W.M. Getz , F. Vollrath & I Douglas-Hamilton . (2007) Social dominance, seasonal movements, and spatial segregation in African elephants: a contribution to conservation behavior. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 61, 19191931.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Oryx
  • ISSN: 0030-6053
  • EISSN: 1365-3008
  • URL: /core/journals/oryx
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords:

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 5
Total number of PDF views: 63 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 272 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 28th May 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.