CONSEQUENCE

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elephants_way_forward

RUDI J VAN AARDE supported byAlida de Flamingh, Jo Fourie, Robert Guldemond,Tamara Lee, Michael Mole, Camilla Nørgaard,Cornelio Ntumi, Pieter Olivier, Shaun Rodrigues D’Araujo,Carrie Roever, Morgan Trimble and Kim YoungAll photographs: Rudi van AardeELEPHANTS A way forward 1


2 E L E P H A N T S A way forward


INSIDEForeword .....................................................................5Introduction. ..................................................................7What do we know about elephants?. ................................................11Ecological engineers of the savannahs ..............................................21Providing for the spatial needs of elephants .........................................25Artificial water points: as outdated as trunk calls? ....................................29The dogma of wildlife management and carrying capacity ...............................31Re-thinking conservation and wildlife management. ...................................33Mimicking and nurturing the fluxes of nature ........................................35What more can we do for elephants?. ..............................................37Making space for elephants ......................................................41Ecological networks can temper impacts and maintain biodiversity .......................43To summarise. ................................................................51CERU .......................................................................53Our supporters ...............................................................59The photographs ..............................................................61ELEPHANTS A way forward 3


“Ecological networksconnect fragmentedecosystems andspecies populations.”4 E L E P H A N T S A way forward


FOREWORDIssues surrounding the conservation, management and welfare of Africa’s elephants are complex. Elephantnumbers in some populations have stabilised naturally, others are increasing, while some populations are beingdepleted by escalating poaching and ongoing habitat loss. Where elephants are confined by fences, damage tovegetation is real, especially in small protected areas and around water sources. Human-elephant conflict due to cropraiding in areas where elephants range onto land where people live is another matter for concern. It is aroundthese hotspots of friction between humans and animals where calls to reduce elephant numbers, curb growthrates and reduce impact on people and on natural vegetation, continue to dominate local discussions.Arguments about elephant management are often extremely polarised. For instance, management to reduce numbers or to confine elephants solicits responses from peopleconcerned about the welfare of elephants. Some interpret these concerns as ‘animal righteousness’ and support culling and hunting to control numbers. While people sometimesare at odds as to the method employed to limit elephant numbers or their impact on other species, they all seek the same outcome, a harmonious environment where elephantsare not viewed as a ‘problem’. All of these issues need to be addressed and this is where scientific research has a key role to play.For the past 50 years many scientists have made a concerted effort to contribute to the scientific knowledge that may facilitate the well-being of elephants through appropriateconservation and management measures. This booklet is a further contribution to this effort. It should inform whoever is interested in elephants. The booklet is based onknowledge that my students and I have gained through scientific research on elephants in southern Africa over a period of some 20 years. It has an element of advocacy andcalls for the development of ecological networks to conserve elephants and to serve as frameworks for their management.Ecological networks provide an operational model for conserving biological diversity. Such networks connect ecosystems and species populations that would otherwise befragmented. A network includes different land use options and may consist of protected areas surrounded by buffer zones and linked through corridors and stepping stonesinto administrative or management units that may reconcile conservation objectives.ELEPHANTS A way forward 5


6 E L E P H A N T S A way forward


INTRODUCTIONAbout half a million elephants live in Africa’s savannahs. Is this too few, or too many? Before the previousonslaught for ivory half a century ago, we may have had 1.3 million elephants roaming the continent! To regainour losses might not be sensible, or practical. The reason is simple – African savannahs are no longer what theyused to be.Elephants that once might have roamed across most of the continent now mostly live in formally protected areas. In total, these areas probably account for only a third of theirformer range. Since the previous onslaught on elephants for their ivory, we have set aside more land for conservation and hence may be in a position to support more elephants.Does this mean that we can regain some of our losses? The answer to this must be no, given that elephants in some 70 per cent of their range across southern Africa nowshare the land with more people than ever before. The answer also could be that we already have regained our losses and now have more elephants than what the availableland can cope with. We simply do not know if this is the case, but we do know that elephants do well on protected land. We hence should not be concerned about regainingearlier numerical losses, but should rather focus on maintaining what we have. Our emphasis should be on recovering and stabilising the ecological processes that can limitelephant numbers and provide for their needs without detracting from the needs of the other species with which they share the land. The needs of elephants are relativelysimple – fodder close to water and distant from people, trees under which to shelter from the heat of the day and the cold of the night, as well as enough land to move aroundon as seasons and resources demand. To provide for these needs we need appropriate space.In recent years elephant numbers have stabilised in several protected areas. These include areas not exposed to excessive poaching, areas not fenced, and areas that allowfor the dispersal of elephants. However, in parts of southern Africa numbers continue to increase where fences hinder movements and where water provisioning releaseselephants from ecological limitations. Fences and water also alter space use patterns and this drives the impact elephants have on vegetation and other species. This type ofimpact continues to fuel calls to reduce elephant numbers, but often is a mere reflection of a dysfunctional ecological system, mostly due to our activities. In such casesemphasis could be on healing the system rather than on blaming elephant numbers.ELEPHANTS A way forward 7


What management options do we have to heal such systems? Can we stem the impact that elephants have on other species? Is the land that we have set aside for conservationenough to sustain elephants indefinitely? Can elephants take care of themselves, their numbers and their habitat? If not, what can we do to assist them? To address thesequestions we need to know what causes the perceived elephant problems. Yet, even if we find all the answers, the future of elephants across southern Africa may not besecure, especially with the recent escalation in poaching. Political instability, poor governance, lack of societal values, land degradation and the renewed syndicate-basedpoaching could derail well-founded conservation measures. Assuring the future well-being of elephants, therefore, is complicated, but science has a role to play in unravellingsome of these complex issues.Scientists, true to their nature, will continue to debate their findings as more information is gathered. Debates will continue to improve our understanding and should not beconstrued as conflict between scientists or between scientists and society. In addition, the complexity of the situation should neither justify indecision, nor result in supportfor decisions based on experience and opinion alone. A decision supported by validated information remains the best way forward. This booklet is not a management plan forelephants, or a recipe for dealing with elephant problems. It is an amalgamation of scientific knowledge and experience that calls for the provisioning of space for elephants inorder to meet their conservation needs.What do we mean by spacefor elephants? In ecologicalterms space is not only about areaor size, but also about the land thatprovides for the variety and distributionof resources that a speciesneeds to persist. These includethe variability in living conditions,the distribution of and distancesbetween essential resources, theconnectivity between ideal habitatand the configuration of ideal andmarginal habitat.8 ELEPHANTS A way forward


E L E P H A N T S A way forward 9


10 E L E P H A N T S A way forward


WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT ELEPHANTS?What we know comes from dedicated, long-term and innovative researchEarly research on elephants focused on illustratingtheir impact on vegetation. Some of these researchprojects justified culling as a measure to limit elephantnumbers. Later on, research on the behavioural ecologyof elephants highlighted the intricacies of the socialsystem of free-ranging elephants and found somesupport for anecdotes of their intellectual abilities.Long-term studies in East Africa probably yielded mostof what we know about the behaviour and life historyof savannah elephants. Material from large-scale cullsacross parts of East and southern Africa between 1960and 1994 provided detailed information on the populationand breeding biology of elephants. At that time thecounting of elephants throughout most of the continent,mainly through aerial surveys, also commencedand thereafter became a routine research tool and remainsone to this day. Research proliferated, and from1960 to 2012, the number of research publications onelephants increased exponentially, illustrating not onlyan increase in research activity but also an increase inthe number of scientists participating in such research.Number of peer-reviewed papers published on African elephantsWhile research questions have changed little over time,research techniques have changed a lot. In addition,technical development has boosted our ability to understandelephants. Scientists now rely on relativelysophisticated technologies, modelling exercises andanalytical routines to reduce immense volumes of informationinto sensible inferences. Modelling exercisesimprove scientific understanding, but models and theiroutcomes are only simplifications of reality. Thesemodels inevitably include uncertainties, and scientistscannot allow for the uncertainties that occur beyondtheir simplified realities. They therefore continue todesign studies to reduce such uncertainties. Scientistsunderstand this, but others may interpret uncertaintyas a shortcoming.40035030025020015010050Elephants, evidence and ecologycology as a science plays a pivotal role in society andcould advance debate, inform public opinion, assist politicaldecisions and guide the development of conservationand management actions. Scientistshave written extensively about Africa’s elephants,much more than on any other AfricanEmammal, other than the chimpanzee. Whythen write more? Literature accessible to the laypersonis mostly in the form of newspapers, wildlife magazines,dedicated internet sources, and books on elephants orAfrican wildlife in general. Some of these are written byscientists and others by journalists and/or keen conservationists.Most of the information provided throughthese mediums, however, has not been exposed toscientific scrutiny as is typical for information publishedin scientific journals. This booklet also is not peerreviewedbut an interpretation of information that hasbeen published in peer-reviewed journals.01970 ’71 ’72 ’73 ’74 ’75 ’76 ’77 ’78 ’79 ’80 ’81 ’82 ’83 ’84 ’85 ’86 ’87 ’88 ’89 ’90 ’91 ’92 ’93 ’94 ’95 ’96 ’97 ’98 ’99 ’00 ’01 ’02 ’03 ’04 ’05 ’06 ’07 ’08 ’09 ’10 ’11 ’12YearThe figure is based on information extracted from the Institute of Scientific Information (ISI), Web of Knowledge Search Engine (16 January 2013).ELEPHANTS A way forward 11


We know where elephants liveSouthern African savannahs supportnearly 39 per cent of the known rangeof elephants in Africa. About two thirds ofall savannah elephants live here, most of themin protected areas that account for about a thirdof the land area of the sub-region. But elephants alsolive beyond the boundaries of protected areas. In fact,nearly 70 per cent of their estimated range stretchesbeyond formally protected zones, and at least a thirdof southern Africa’s elephants may live on land that isnot protected. This includes areas in northern Namibiaand northern Botswana, a few places in Zambia, andparts of Zimbabwe, Angola and Mozambique. Someelephants thus exist entirely without the benefits ofprotected areas, while the ranges of others include, butalso extend beyond the boundaries of these areas.About three quarters of the subcontinent’s elephantslive in Botswana (130 000 elephants), Tanzania(110 000) and Zimbabwe (80 000 – 100 000), whilecountries such as Namibia, South Africa and Mozambiqueeach house fewer than 30 000 elephants. Malawihas few elephants (maybe less than 2 000) and estimatesfor Angola are anyone’s guess. However,elephants generally disrespect border controls andpopulations stretch across international boundaries,especially where protected areas abut nationalborders. Consequently some elephants freely movebetween countries – Botswana, Namibia, Zambia,Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa definitelyshare some of their elephants!Southern African country profilesANGOLAANGOLA ZAMBIAMALAWIZIMBABWENAMIBIABOTSWANASOUTH AFRICAMOZAMBIQUEFor elephants things differ from country tocountry. In alphabetical order:Information on elephants in Angola is limited tosurveys across the southern parts that suggestthat relatively large-scale recolonisation fromBotswana and Namibia may explain steep increasesin population size. Our recent satellitetracking studies and those of Elephants WithoutBorders (EWB) support the notion, though crossboundary movements were also prevalent duringthe early 1990s. Angolan populations wereseverely depleted during the decades of civilstrife and war, possibly to finance military operations.BOTSWANAElephants in Botswana mainly roam across some80 000 square kilometres of the northern partsof the country. Few fences other than those alonginternational boundaries hinder movement andthe populations appear to be structured into subunitswith differing demography and spatial usepatterns. Numerically the population has beenstable at around 130 000 individuals for nearly adecade. Dispersal into neighbouring countriescontinues but genetic studies imply no breedingherd related gene flow between Botswana andneighbouring Zimbabwe and some gene flow betweenBotswana and southern Zambia. Bulls roamfreely across the region. Spatial use patterns areinfluenced by the presence of people and conflictbetween elephants and people is a major concern.Management is limited to well-structured and effectiveanti-poaching campaigns and the provisioningof water across the hinterland. Elephantsare valued for their contribution to society and toa flourishing tourism industry. Research is wellfounded, long-term, sanctioned by local authorities,and funded through foreign resources thatsupport EWB. The government is a leading supporterof transfrontier conservation initiatives.12 ELEPHANTS A way forward


NAMIBIAIn Namibia elephants mainly occur in the northernparts of the country where about 20 500individuals roam freely beyond protected areas.Some 3 300 elephants are confined to thefenced Etosha National Park. Other elephantsare partially confined, notably the ~2 700individuals in the Khaudum Game Reserve.Dispersal into neighbouring countries mainlyinvolves elephants living in and crossing theCaprivi region when roaming into neighbouringAngola. Rural communities suffer from conflict,especially where elephants are lured to limitedwater sources. Many of these communitiesembrace conservation and benefit financiallyfrom NGO-driven incentives. Water provisioningfeatures highly in management dominated bya utilitarian philosophy. Political support fortransfrontier conservation initiatives is in placeand may benefit local elephant populations.Research is mainly conducted and supported byforeign institutions.MALAWIMalawi is a relatively small and densely populatedcountry with only a few protected areasthat collectively house no more than 2 000elephants. Human-elephant conflict aroundsome protected areas is intense, though fewelephants stray onto these areas. Internationaldonors support research, rescue operations totranslocate elephants from rural areas to protectedareas, and efforts to stabilise or recoverpopulations, and the government sanctionssuch incentives. Research and monitoring activitiesare intermittent and suggest that someconfined populations are recovering faster thanothers.MOZAMBIQUEIn Mozambique most elephants (~22 500) livein the northern province where they are free toroam between protected areas and adjoiningcommunity and concession lands. Some 7 000elephants live in other parts of the country.Most populations have been severely depleted,but since 2000 some are recovering at relativelyslow rates. Renewed poaching is a majorconcern, especially towards the north and alongthe Tanzanian border. Populations along internationalborders share space with South Africa,Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania. People inhabitprotected areas and conflict with elephants isrelatively high; it also occurs in zones surroundingparks. Conservation management focuseson reactive approaches to poaching, andattempts to reduce conflict feature high on thepolitical agenda. The government subscribes toactivities to protect elephants and facilitates therecovery of depleted populations through itsparticipation in transfrontier conservation incentives.Most research on elephants in thecountry is financed through international donations.Monitoring of elephants is intermittentand usually conducted by foreign consultants.ELEPHANTS A way forward 13


SOUTH AFRICAMost (~23 000 in 2012) of South Africa’selephants live in the Kruger National Park.Populations other than in the Addo ElephantNational Park and the Tembe Elephant Parkcomprise 54 populations that are fenced in andconfined to small provincial reserves and privateproperties. New populations continue to befounded on privately owned game reserves.Incidences of conflict and poaching are low.Conservation infrastructure is well developedand research capacity enormous compared toother southern African countries. National andinternational agencies fund research activities.Transfrontier conservation incentives are alsowell established, and SANParks officially supportsmanagement incentives that focus onspatial manipulation to reduce impact, ratherthan the ‘command-and-control’ approach of theapartheid era. Elephant management in provincialparks and on privately owned land favourscontraception to inhibit population growth.ZAMBIASome 26 000 elephants are reported to liveacross 72 per cent of Zambia’s protected areas.The largest continuous and free-ranging populationof about 19 000 individuals occurs in theLuangwa Valley where incidences of conflict andpoaching are common and disturbing. Mostelephants in Zambia live in national parks and thesurrounding game management areas thatcollectively account for nearly 30 per cent of thearea of the country. Conservation managementis largely directed at reducing conflicts, and fewpopulations are exposed to fences and waterprovisioning. Zambia shares populations withneighbouring Malawi, Angola, Botswana, Namibiaand Zimbabwe. In general, population monitoringis at low intensity and intermittent frequency.Political debate on elephants focuses on conflict,anti-poaching campaigns and legitimising ivorysales, and Zambia’s sanctioning of transfrontierconservation incentives stands elephants in goodstead.ZIMBABWESome 80 000 to 100 000 elephants may live inZimbabwe, half thereof in the north-westernparts and on protected land that adjoins internationalborders and similarly protected areas.Elephants are not fenced in and are free to roamacross the landscape, however there are reportsthat incidences of human-elephant conflict andpoaching are increasing. All of Zimbabwe’smajor elephant populations are located alongthe borders of neighbouring countries andmovements are most likely taking place betweenthem. Several NGOs play instrumental roles insafeguarding and monitoring elephant numbersin some areas.14 ELEPHANTS A way forward


We know where elephants wouldlike to liveElephants that have a choice prefer habitats that rangefrom sparsely wooded riverbeds in western deserts todensely wooded forests along the eastern extremes ofthe subcontinent. Most elephants, however, are particularlyat home in savannahs. Here rain falls in the summer,and areas that suit elephants best are mostlyclose to water, mainly along the major rivers and temporarilyrain-filled drainage lines that weave acrossmuch of the southern African region.Confinement by fences may limit the choices availableto elephants, but even in such places elephants continueto find certain landscapes and habitats more attractivethan others. Elephants typically prefer to livefar away from people, where it is relatively green, butmost importantly, where they are close to water. However,they will venture close to people when lured bygreen crops and water.Free-ranging elephants appear to avoid contact withrural people. On a daily basis, they achieve this by alteringtheir drinking behaviour. For instance, along theOkavango River in northwestern Botswana, people areactive in fields close to the river during the day, whileelephants visit areas close to the river at night, therebyminimising the time that elephants and people are inclose proximity. In other cases elephants may avoidareas close to settlements and vacate areas entirelywhen human densities reach a particular threshold.This threshold differs from place to place, probably asa function of the extent of land conversion rather thanthe actual number of people living there.Interconnectedness:Elephants and waterElephants need to drink to negatewater loss, as is typical of largebodiedanimals living in relativelyhot and dry environments. They also needwater and use mud to remain cool duringthe heat of the day, especially during thesummer months. Most elephants seldomroam beyond ten kilometres from water.They therefore use areas close to watermore intensely than areas farther afield.This uneven use of land allows vegetationsome distance from water supplies toescape destruction. This is not the casewhere watering points are evenly spreadand at short distances from each other.This is the situation on most small estates.In such places the relatively short distancesbetween water points reduce the homerange areas of elephants, intensifying andcondensing their impact on vegetation.Here water placement also allows elephantsto occupy land that otherwise wouldhave lain unused during normal rainfallyears and that might provide fodder duringdry spells when resources close to waterwould be exhausted. Consequent die-offsdue to starvation during droughts are moreintense in places where water is providedthan where water is not supplied.ELEPHANTS A way forward 15


16 E L E P H A N T S A way forward“Food availabilityand quality can alsolimit breeding andsurvival rates, moreso when elephantdensities are highthan low.”


We know what happens whenelephant numbers increaseElephants that are free to move may extend theirranges when numbers increase. Local densities (elephantsper unit area) therefore may remain relativelyconstant. This happened in northern Botswana whenelephants were free to move onto vacant land. However,densities increase with numbers where fencing,human populations or other factors limit the area elephantscan occupy. This was the case in South Africa’sKruger National Park when fences surrounded theboundaries of the park. Elephant distribution acrossthe park became more even as numbers increased, butdensities close to the rivers and some artificial waterpoints remained higher than elsewhere in the park.Based on our recent studies across southern Africa, wealso know that population growth declines with increasingdensities. Scientists refer to this phenomenonas density dependence, which may ultimately becaused by the depletion of food resources. Food availabilityand quality varies with rainfall and soil conditionsand can also limit population growth, conceivablymore so when elephant numbers (densities) are highthan low. Food limitation could influence populationgrowth by inducing increased calf mortality anddecreased reproduction. Density dependence in populationgrowth has been recorded for elephant populationsin the Serengeti (Tanzania), the Hwange NationalPark (Zimbabwe), in parts of northern Botswana and inthe Kruger National Park.Unusual events can reduce elephant numbers. For instance,in the Tarangire National Park (Tanzania) anunusual drought in 1993/94 killed 20 per cent of calves.In Hwange National Park (Zimbabwe) periodic droughtskill five to nine per cent of all elephants, and up to85 per cent of calves may die during severe and extendeddroughts. Perhaps the most extreme exampleof drought-related elephant die-off on record comesfrom Tsavo National Park in Kenya where some 6 000elephants died during 1970 and 1971. Extreme eventsdo not limit elephant populations over the long-termbut accentuate the influence of density on populationgrowth. From studies in East Africa we know that conceptionrates of elephants during La Niña droughtevents can be as low as zero, but as high as 58 per centduring wet spells associated with El Niño events whenfood quality is high. In southern Africa unusual dry andwet spells could explain large scale variation in thegrowth rates of established elephant populations.We know that conditions during the first few yearsof an elephant’s life may drive population changes,probably due to the vulnerability of young elephants todrought and increased roaming distances of breedingherds when densities are high. We also know that firstyearsurvival drives population responses in drysavannahs while, in wetter savannahs, variation in birthrates generates population change.ELEPHANTS A way forward 17


18 E L E P H A N T S A way forward


We know that elephant populationsgrow at varying ratesWithout immigration, the highest average rate of increasethat well-established elephant populations cansustain for an extended period is 5.7 per cent per year,but only if cows give birth at the earliest possible age(~10 years), repeatedly give birth at the shortest possibleinterval (~4 years), and only stop giving birthwhen old (~60 years). Thus, most populations shouldincrease more slowly. On the other hand, high populationgrowth rates are possible over the short-term,especially in small or disrupted populations where sexratios or age structures are abnormal and breedingevents are synchronised. In these populations shorttermrates of increase can escalate to 25 per cent.Immigration and emigration also affect growth rates,and can induce dramatic changes in population numbersfrom year to year. For example, due to large-scalemovements, yearly changes in population numbers canvary from minus 88 per cent to plus 148 per cent.Immigration also explains the establishment of newpopulations. Such has been the case for the KrugerNational Park where less than ten elephants may havebeen present in the area in 1900. Colonisation tookplace from Mozambique and elephants colonised all ofthe present day area of Kruger within 50 years at arate of seven to ten kilometres per year.Elephants also re-colonised the Serengeti NationalPark in Tanzania after an absence of 40 years. In somecases human actions can spur immigration. The provisionof water certainly enabled elephants to coloniseand permanently occupy areas that were relativelyinhospitable, especially during the dry seasons, such asHwange in Zimbabwe, and the Etosha National Parkand Khaudum Game Reserve in Namibia.Northern Botswana as a case studyThe recovery of Botswana’s elephant population certainly is something to rejoice, but the destructionof vegetation along the riverfronts is a matter of concern. Here elephants do destroy some trees,especially acacias, baobabs and marulas. They also stunt growth in mopanis and combretums. This,however, needs to be placed in context. Firstly, the accumulation of dead trees in places along the floodplainsof the Chobe and Linyanti Rivers may be due to natural die-offs and slow decay of hardwood species. Secondly,over-hunting and an outbreak of rinderpest during the early 1900s decimated wildlife. Wildlife numbers remainedlow for at least half a century, and this provided an unusual opportunity for dense woodlands to develop,especially along riverfronts. However, in the wake of conservation, wildlife numbers increased, and the densewoodlands along the riverfront declined to a state more natural than the anomaly that developed in the absenceof wildlife and specifically elephants. The area of disturbance, known as a piosphere, that now persists is typicalof floodplains throughout southern Africa. However, the impact of elephants on vegetation in areas aroundartificial water points beyond floodplains in the Chobe National Park and elsewhere should be a matter ofconcern and calls into question the contribution of these watering points to conservation.ELEPHANTS A way forward 19


Ioften get confrontedwith statements suchas ‘there must be toomany elephants as many treesare wrecked and uprooted’. Thisgeneralisation is not backed byelephant counts, but is basedon the apparent ill effects ofelephants on individual trees. Amore accurate statement maybe ‘elephants break and uprootmany trees’, even if no treeswere counted.20 E L E P H A N T S A way forward


ECOLOGICAL ENGINEERS OF THE SAVANNAHSWe know that elephants changevegetationThere is no doubt about it, elephants trample, pollard,debark, uproot and break trees. However, they alsodisperse the seeds of trees, create shelters for severalspecies, promote nutrient cycling, enhance food availabilityand quality for other species, and they open upwoodlands. All of this is part of their functional role,and elephants that are not confined to small reserves,seldom, if ever, destroy ecosystems or change themirreversibly.Due to their body size, their influence is strikingly obviousto the casual observer, but equally striking shouldbe the consequences of their absence, which alsochanges ecosystems. Elephants reduce tree cover, especiallynear rivers and other watering points. Thatsaid, it is equally important to realise that savannahsinfluence elephant populations, their activities, theirroaming behaviour, their selection of food and habitat,their breeding rates, survival rates and ultimately populationgrowth and numbers.Estimates of the number of trees destroyed byelephants vary greatly, as do the number of trees thatare present in any given place. Years ago scientistssuggested that each elephant in the Luangwa Valleyin Zambia killed some 40 trees per year, while workin eastern Botswana during the 1980s came up with afigure of 1 200. Another study suggested that 1 500trees may be taken yearly by each elephant in northwesternZimbabwe. However, it is not about the actualnumber of trees taken, it is more about the fraction ofavailable trees that might be destroyed.“Elephantsseldom,if ever,destroyecosystemsor changethemirreversibly.”ELEPHANTS A way forward 21


Work in Kruger suggests that one per cent to four percent of all trees in the park are destroyed each year byelephants. This level of damage may be supportable,but can transform the composition and structure of thepark’s vegetation. Yet it is not elephants alone thatkill trees, but the combined effects of fire, floods,droughts, disease, and herbivores. Nevertheless, ardentobservers may argue that it is not the number oftrees killed that is important, but rather the reality thatelephants may kill large trees. I agree and thereforefeel that we need to know why elephants break largetrees.It is possible that boredom and displacement activitiesduring shade-seeking, enforced by spells of high ambienttemperatures, rather than nutritional needs alone,could explain some incidences of damage that culminatein the demise of trees. Increased incidences ofextreme temperatures due to climate change mayboost such occurrences.We also know that the disappearance of elephantsfrom large stretches of natural landscapes mayaccount for the development of dense woodlands, especiallyalong the banks of rivers that were frequentedby elephants before their demise through huntingfor ivory during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Theabsence, combined with the aggressive spread of theexotic rinderpest that dramatically reduced antelopenumbers across southern Africa, could account for thedevelopment of these woodlands. In the mid 1900sthese woodlands might have been a typical feature ofour then newly protected parks. However, rather thantypical, such woodlands echoed the response of natureto man-induced disturbances brought about by theover-hunting of elephants and by wildlife succumbingto an exotic disease.22 ELEPHANTS A way forward


“Trees diethrough thecombinedeffects of old age,fire, floods,droughts,disease, andherbivores.”E L E P H A N T S A way forward 23


24 E L E P H A N T S A way forward“Zonation of land hasalready eased conflictin some places, ashas the developmentof community-basedconservation anddevelopment projects.”


PROVIDING FOR THE SPATIAL NEEDS OF ELEPHANTSWhat have we done for elephants?People have done a lot for elephants and continue todo so. We are well aware of their plight, and have legislationto protect elephants. We have set aside land toaccommodate elephants, provided them with waterwhere deemed necessary and we have fenced some ofthem off from the surrounding landscapes. We nolonger cull elephants, but in some places we continueto hunt them.Criminals kill them for their ivory, and conservationauthorities occasionally shoot elephants for theirwrong-doings, such as crop raiding or when people arethreatened. We also study them, hail them in highesteem and earn good tourist money from theirpresence in many of our protected areas. Overall,we have done a lot for elephants and should continueto do so, especially in the wake of the renewedonslaughts of poaching and the ever-continuing habitatdestruction.We have reduced their rangeHistorically, elephants may have ranged throughoutmuch of southern Africa, especially during the wet season.They then could have restricted their dry seasonranges to areas close to water, food and shade. Numberscould have been relatively high near rivers, as isthe situation these days. However, in more recenttimes we have greatly reduced their range, more so inSouth Africa and Malawi than elsewhere in southernAfrica.Elephants do come into conflict with peopleFrequent reports on human-elephant conflict (HEC) stress the serious nature thereof.Levels of frustration are high in many rural areas where people and elephants live sideby side. This usually is the case where people find life most secure — in the proximity ofwater and where soils are fertile for growing crops, exactly the places that provide prime habitatfor elephants! Elephants raid crops mostly at the end of the wet season when crops are just aboutready for harvesting. Raiding generally takes place at night and most frequently involves bullelephants. Crop raiding is also most likely to occur near protected areas; however, elephants onrural land do not necessarily come from protected areas.HEC mostly occurs where people live in ideal elephant habitat, especially along river courseswhere soils are fertile. HEC therefore seems to be a spatial problem. The solution may be inallocating appropriate space, which may include actions that zone land use. Zonation of land inconsultation with both parties (people as well as elephants) has already eased conflict in someplaces, as has the development of community-based conservation and development projects.ELEPHANTS A way forward 25


In many places we have fenced elephants in, and theyno longer are free to roam and forage as and wherethey prefer. This is the case for some elephants livingin South Africa, Malawi and Namibia. Fences along internationalfrontiers and veterinary fences hinderlarge-scale movements, as do intensely transformedlandscapes along the boundaries of some protectedareas.We have given them landElephants are where they are because of what we havedone for them. Southern African nations collectivelyhave set aside a third of their land for elephants andother wildlife. Conservation agencies have done muchto nurse elephant populations onto the path of recoveryfollowing the decimation wrought by hunting forivory prior to and during the early colonial years. Relieffrom intense poaching and continued legal protectionalso allowed some elephants to regain part of the landthat used to be available to them beyond protectedareas.Today most savannah elephants live on protected landin Africa’s Miombo-Mopani wilderness area thatstretches across some 1.2 million square kilometres. Itis also home to some four million rural people. About70 per cent of the land in this area is consideredrelatively intact, and at least 36 per cent thereof isformally protected as IUCN category I to IV areas.Law also protects elephants that live on game managementareas and communal conservation areas. Theseareas mostly fall into the IUCN V and VI categories,often adjoin formal protected areas and in some countriesdouble the area of the protected estate. Therefore,elephants living in this part of Africa alreadybenefit greatly from formal protection.In South Africa several populations have been establishedacross the country, mostly on private propertiesless than 250 square kilometres in area. This is amere tenth the size of the typical home range of afree-ranging breeding herd living in larger protectedareas where movements are not restricted by fencesand the artificial distribution of water. Elephants onsmall protected areas therefore have no space toscatter across when the summer rains arrive. Theconsequent year-round use of the same land and foodsources provides little opportunity for vegetation torecover from elephant browsing. Impact, therefore isnot due to too many elephants, but merely due toelephants not having the opportunity to shift theirranges as the seasons demand. But, this anomaly doesnot only exist in small protected areas, it also occursin some of the larger protected areas, specifically inthose with plenty of artificial water points.26 ELEPHANTS A way forward


E L E P H A N T S A way forward 27


28 E L E P H A N T S A way forward“Water pumpedfrom boreholesserved a purpose,but is now atthe root of theso-called‘elephant problem’in several ofour parks.”


ARTIFICIAL WATER POINTS: AS OUTDATED AS TRUNK CALLS?We have given them waterMost large protected areas where elephants liveinclude or border on large rivers with ample water supplies.Protected areas also include vast stretches ofland without water to drink during the dry months ofthe year. Here perennial streams and shallow depressionsthat fill with rainwater during the summer rainsdry up during the winter months when it does not rain.Most wildlife concentrates on areas close to water andwatering places that were established to attract wildlifeand to boost animal numbers in protected areas. Thismade sense in the early days of conservation, when itwas important to regain wildlife in newly establishedconservation areas. Elephants and other wildlife had tobe nurtured to regain desired numbers and to flourishin protected areas. However, things have subsequentlychanged rapidly. High numbers and intense use ofareas around water sources degraded vegetation,which in some places motivated culling, a managementactivity discontinued throughout the sub-continent.The creation and maintenance of artificial water pointspumped from boreholes is well meant and even servedits purpose, but it is now at the root of the so-called‘elephant problem’ in several of our parks. Though notfenced, conservation areas such as the HwangeNational Park in Zimbabwe and the Khaudum GameReserve and Etosha National Park in Namibia areswamped with artificial water points. In recent yearsdrinking troughs have also been established in severalplaces in Botswana’s Chobe National Park, while waterpoints in South Africa’s Kruger National Park havebeen reduced. Water provisioning may suit tourismneeds, but accentuates impact, degrades food sourcesand intensifies die-offs during droughts. The provisioningof water is obviously not a lasting solution for theseproblems. It may seem counter-intuitive, but scientificstudies suggest that in some protected areas, it is farmore productive to reduce the number of artificialwater holes, thereby providing a more durable solutionto the perceived elephant problem.ELEPHANTS A way forward 29


Water supplied artificially boostselephant population growthWe know from our recent work that elephantcalf survival during the first three years oflife depends on sufficient rainfall duringthe year of birth. This effect is weak in unfencedprotected areas where water supplies are not supplementedbut much stronger where water is suppliedand where movements are restricted by fences. Thissuggests that these management actions causeresource depletion by altering the roaming and foragingbehaviour of elephants. The expected increasedoccurrences of drought due to climate change maywell occur in the places where elephants will be mostseverely affected, as would be for other species livingthere. Conservation management will thus be welladvised to reduce artificial water supplies and wherepossible, lift fences so as to reduce impact on vegetationand soften the impact of droughts on wildlife.30 ELEPHANTS A way forward


We have fenced them in andmanaged their numbersIn early colonial days, diseases such as malaria andsleeping sickness kept people from occupying largetracts of land. Some of this land became protectedareas where wildlife was expected to flourish. At thattime, and at times since then, it was important to attractwildlife to the newly established protected areas,to keep them there and to keep people out of theseareas. This was best done by way of policing and fencing.Putting fences around land set aside to protectgame and other species from people and vice versaseems sensible – after all, good fences supposedlymake good neighbours. However, at times good fencesmay be counterproductive, restricting movements oflarge animals, eventually at a cost to the land and habitatmeant to be protected, because fences prevent elephantsfrom dispersing in response to food scarcity.Fences and movementsOur satellite tracking studies show that elephants useareas close to fences more intensely than thosefurther afield. This bundling of activity intensifies theimpact of elephants on vegetation and creates so-called edgeeffects. In some places fences disrupt movement patterns andthis also amplifies elephant related impact on vegetation.A lack of seasonal dispersion due to fencing or insufficientspace may force elephants to use the same habitat throughoutthe year and increase local impact on vegetation. Fencing alsohinders dispersal when resources become limiting.THE DOGMA OF WILDLIFE MANAGEMENTAND CARRYING CAPACITYAgricultural logic dominated the early days of wildlifemanagement. Many managers at the time believed thatwildlife numbers had to remain below the limits dictatedby the land. They called this ‘carrying capacity’and thought that numbers would only stray beyond thislevel when the natural balance was disrupted. Managersbecame the keepers of this balance and whateverthey perceived as threatening this balance had tobe controlled. Logic therefore dictated that numbershad to be reduced to keep nature in balance.As an upshot, wildlife was managed intensively duringthe 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s. Wildlife management becamea science in its own right, and some university coursesfocused on the dogma of controlling numbers as a primaryconservation measure. For about thirty years,wildlife in some protected areas was managed to followmodels that set numbers at approved levels or ‘carryingcapacities’. For elephants this came down to ‘aboutone elephant per square mile’. Consequently at least46 000 elephants were culled in Zimbabwe alone. Thefate was similar for about 2 000 elephants in Uganda,1 600 in Zambia, 800 in Namibia, and nearly 17 000 inSouth Africa.Managers in those days did what they and some scientiststhought was right. They found support in the reasoningof the day, but in most places the impact ofelephants on trees continued despite culling. In retrospect,it seems that the controlof elephant numbers didlittle to address their impact.This is not surprising consideringthat impact is due tofactors other than numbersalone, a position also held byseveral scientists that inthose days already opposedculling as a method to mitigateimpact.ELEPHANTS A way forward 31


32 E L E P H A N T S A way forward


RE-THINKING CONSERVATION AND WILDLIFE MANAGEMENTElephants have respondedto managementIn southern Africa most elephant populations are notfenced-in, and not exposed to management interventionsother than the provisioning of water and the controlof poaching. In stark contrast, South Africanpopulations have been exposed to intensive management.Populations here have been fenced, additionalwater has been provided, and numbers have beenreduced through translocations and culling. Ourresearch shows that South Africa’s intensely managedpopulations increased at rates that were both fasterand less variable than populations elsewhere in Africa,suggesting that the conditions created by managementstimulated population growth. This is not surprising,because elephant populations, like those of all otherspecies, do respond to resource supply and the protectionafforded by conservation management. On theother hand, the inhibition of dispersal may also belargely responsible for higher population growth ratesin the fenced South African populations as comparedto open populations elsewhere in Africa where immigrationand emigration do occur.“Our approach engages the causes of the apparently high abundance ofelephants in parts of southern Africa. It moves away from the practice ofdealing only with numbers (symptoms) when managing the impact ofelephants on other species. While providing an ecological basis for thedevelopment of elephant management options, this needs to be melded withsocial, political and economic realities through southern Africa. Inthis regard we are encouraged by the ongoing development of several TransfrontierConservation programmes and Peace Parks across the region.”The undesirable responses of elephants to managementcontinue to stimulate discussion and research.Some people continue to call for further interventions.Such interventions seem sensible, but only if we learnfrom them, and respond by adapting our actions toimprove the likelihood of achieving our goals. For instance,we now know that elephant numbers increasedwhen culling was halted. This also happened in placeswhere a few individuals were released into vacant landscapes,or where emigration (dispersal) was hinderedby fences, or where additional water was provided, orin any combination of these. We cannot ignore lessonsfrom the past and these should pave the way to continuingadaptations in management through learning.Our knowledge-base will continue to change and thismeans that management interventions should bedynamic and change with time. This could lay thegroundwork for re-thinking conservation and wildlifemanagement, not only for elephants, but also for otherspecies. To learn by ‘trial and error’ makes sense.It provides a solid foundation for experience-basedconservation management, especially when responsesto management are documented properly.(van Aarde and Jackson, 2007)ELEPHANTS A way forward 33


34 E L E P H A N T S A way forward


MIMICKING AND NURTURING THE FLUXES OF NATUREOur management philosophieshave changedMany of us understand that water provisioning drivesthe impact that elephants have on vegetation, especiallywhen fences restrict roaming. We also know thatsome international borders that are fenced hamperlinkages between preferred habitats, especially inplaces where people have transformed habitat. Thecontrol of numbers to reduce impact, however, is nolonger the focus of management, especially for elephantsin relatively large parks. The polarisation andheated debates of the past four decades also seem tohave faded away. Views to the contrary are limited toa few that uphold outdated aspirations and ideologies.Their ‘command and control’ approaches to keep the‘balance of nature’ have largely given way to a moreinformed standing that management directed atconservation should mimic and nurture the fluxes ofnature. For elephants the focus therefore falls on theland and habitat, rather than on numbers.Public opinion on this is also changing. For instance,half of 268 newspaper reports published over fiveyears in three South African newspapers supporttranslocation, fertility control, range expansion, andwater management as alternative approaches toculling to address alleged overabundances of elephantsin confined areas. Managers of small parks withconfined elephants also are increasingly in support ofcontraception as a means to reduce population growthrates.We have set new conservationstandardsFor elephants, life across southern Africa has changedgreatly over the last two decades and even more soover the past five years. Public debate and the informedparticipation of society have assisted thesechanges. Modern day management focuses on the landand aims to restore and maintain ecological processesrather than limiting populations. Emphasis has shiftedto providing for the spatial needs of elephants, protectingsensitive areas through the exclusion of elephantactivity, and managing or restoring the land where theylive by reducing water supplies rather than elephantnumbers to ameliorate impact. The so-called ‘symptomatic’approach to elephant management is hencegiving way to a more ‘systemic’ approach that dealswith finding solutions for the causes rather than thesymptoms of elephant problems.For elephants, management advice these days favoursa natural, self-supporting spatial dynamic. Whereapplicable it calls for the delineation of linkagesbetween isolated populations in the form of transfrontierconservation areas, transboundary protectedareas and megaparks. Leading conservation authorities,such as South African National Parks, have initiatedsome of the regional management activities toremove fences around parks, reduce artificial watersources and promote cooperation between countriesand landowners. Neighbours are keenly participating,and the Peace Parks Foundation is one of severalprominent authorities that facilitate the developmentof transfrontier conservation areas across southernAfrica. In southern Africa alone, ten of 13 proposedtransfrontier conservation areas will have conservationimplications for elephants. We are at the very earlystage of knowing how elephants and other wildlife willrespond to these developments.ELEPHANTS A way forward 35


36 E L E P H A N T S A way forward


WHAT MORE CAN WE DO FOR ELEPHANTS?We can learn from experienceWe know that poaching for ivory and habitat loss at theturn of the previous century changed things for elephants,as did the establishment of protected areasand the consequent well-intended bundling of elephantsinto these areas. This was the right thing to doat the time, but for elephants there was a price to pay.They lost land and populations became fragmented.Elephants could no longer disperse and this boostednumbers. Crowding near water destroyed vegetation.In some places this justified culling operations. Some30 to 40 years later, the ineffectiveness of culling toreduce impact became apparent and consequentchanges in management paradigms now emphasise themanagement of impact rather than elephant numbers.Despite these lessons, the diversity of opinion on howto deal with elephants persists for several reasons.Management objectives differ between countriesand between state owned and privately owned land.Aditionally, conflict and the mitigation thereof in ruralareas also differs between countries, and potential solutionsare often case specific and inspired bypolitical and socio-economic realities. Across southernAfrica, management other than retribution in conflictsituations these days includes the provision of water insome places, the reduction of watering places in others(notably Kruger), the control of movements throughfences, the restoration of movement patterns throughfence removal, and the inhibition of breeding in smallconfined populations that were established throughthe translocation of elephants from elsewhere.We should redefine the elephantproblemThe ‘elephant problem’ is real, but poorly defined.To some people the problem is one of too manyelephants, while others see the problem as one of toofew elephants. For others the problem resides with theimpact of elephants on vegetation and other species.For people that live with elephants in rural areas, problemsrelate to elephants destroying crops and threateningtheir lives. Consequently, past managementfocused on either dealing with numbers or on activitiesto protect crops and people. Problems persist despitethe myriad approaches that have been used or that arein use to deal with these. This is not surprising whenconsidering that solutions are difficult to find for poorlydefined problems. Solutions then tend to focus on thesymptoms rather than the causes of the problem. Forinstance, elephant numbers beyond or below expectationat a given place are merely symptoms of a problem,the problem being a lack of appropriate space, orhuman interference with the way that elephantsarrange themselves across space. Several conservationauthorities and NGOs support this view. In reality,the problem that we now face is whether the spaceassigned to elephants provides for their needs and willensure their persistence and that of other species withwhich they share the land.We should set sensibleconservation and managementstandardsSensible conservation focuses on the persistence ofspecies. This should also be the aim of sensible management.A way towards achieving persistence is toprovide and maintain diverse landscapes on protectedland. Under ideal conditions the land should compriseboth prime and marginal habitat, some areas should bevacant while others should be occupied, but at varyingdensities. Densities should vary naturally and individualsshould be free to disperse in response to the patchinessin resource quality over time and across space.Under such conditions, populations might change intosub-populations that will be separated by distance andhave different survival and breeding rates. Collectivelythese units could form a metapopulation, with incidentaland low rates of movements between sub-units.Restoring such a structured population makes conservationsense as it ensures persistence where land issufficient to provide or to include spatial variability(heterogeneity) in living conditions.ELEPHANTS A way forward 37


We should stop interfering withkey resourcesWater is a key resource for elephants. The distributionof water dictates where elephants live, the distancesthat they roam and the impact that they have on otherspecies. It therefore is not surprising that increasedwater supplies have induced unwanted responses andthat the reduction of water supplies is a managementoption that should be considered. The reason for thisis simply that the impact of elephants on trees andother vegetation depends on distance from water –short distances between many watering points spreadsthis impact, reduces roaming distances and hencedecreases stress, especially on young elephants.Reduced stress increases survival and therefore therate at which populations grow, which ultimatelyresults in high numbers. Increased numbers in confinedareas spreads elephants more evenly across the landand leaves little land unaffected and spared fordroughts when marginal habitat buffers the impactelephants may have on prime habitat. Numbers andland use patterns altered by water provisioningtherefore degrade habitat. Reducing water points toreduce impact therefore makes conservation sense.Reducing water points may increase the impact of elephantson vegetation at the remaining water points,but will relieve vegetation elsewhere and providerespite for its recovery. In the same vein, we know thatthe concentration of elephants at remaining water mayintensify density related effects that could reduce calfsurvival and breeding rates, and ultimately balancepopulation growth. Furthermore, increased roamingdistances enforced by greater distances betweenremaining water supplies and quality food might reducethe likelihood of survival of calves in breedingherds and further reduce population growth. However,this might only hold for relatively large areas whereelephants can roam over large distances. Small protectedareas are unlikely to include situations whereelephants will be forced to move long distancesbetween water points and where living conditions varyenough to stem calf survival. In addition, distancesbetween watering points may be too short to providesensitive vegetation the opportunity and the space toescape from the harmful effects of elephant foraging.In such places, we should explore alternative managementoptions, not least of which may include theremoval of elephants. At best, the practice of foundingelephant populations on relatively small areas shouldbe discontinued as elephants forced to live in suchareas generate more problems than their conservationworth.Reducing water points may makeconservation senseOur research shows that the areas of elephant homeranges decrease as the number of water points increases.In protected areas where watering points areclose to each other, elephant ranges are small and daily roamingdistances short. Conceivably vegetation in these ranges is moreintensely used than where water points are more dispersed andless dense. Impact thus once again is a function of spatial usepatterns enforced by the distribution of water points. Reducingthe number of water points to restore spatial use patterns thereforemight alleviate the impact of elephants on vegetation.38 ELEPHANTS A way forward


E L E P H A N T S A way forward 39


40 E L E P H A N T S A way forward


MAKING SPACE FOR ELEPHANTSWe could remove some fencesand give elephants spaceRemoving fences to provide sufficient space for elephantscould reconcile twin conservation goals. It willreduce impact on habitat and provide the variability inliving conditions that could limit population numbersand growth rates across a region.Removing fences to connect with neighbours that havesimilar conservation aspirations is nothing new andstarted back in 1994 when fences were removed betweenKruger and some of its neighbours to the west.More recently, part of the fence between Kruger andMozambique’s Limpopo National Park was removed toestablish the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park, aninitiative that will eventually represent a six-foldincrease in the size of Kruger alone. Other similarincentives with wider visions for conservation that willincorporate some of the aspirations of local rural peopleare also underway, notably the Kavango-ZambeziTransfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA-TFCA). Thisinitiative caters for nearly 220 000 elephants over atotal area of 278 000 square kilometres and is basedon agreements between Angola, Botswana, Namibia,Zambia and Zimbabwe. Here, few fences exist, butthose between Namibia and Botswana hinder elephantmovement. The notorious veterinary control fences inBotswana also obstruct movement but contain thespread of foot-and-mouth disease.In the many cases where the dropping of fences is notfeasible, landowners and managers face seriousthreats, as elephants confined to small protected areascan erode vegetation and habitat for other species. Inthese areas contraception could be implemented toprevent population growth, but this will not reduce theimpact that elephants have on vegetation. The managementof elephants on small areas should preferablystart long before impact on the land and vegetation becomesundesirable. In these situations the inhibition ofbreeding makes sense, not to reduce impact, but toavoid it. The near exponential development of techniquesto inhibit breeding therefore is a promising animalhusbandry tool but is not realistic for largepopulations and hence not relevant for conservation.Addo’s elephants as a case studyFrom the elegant reconstruction of the history of the elephant population of the Addo ElephantNational Park by other scientists we know that isolation through fencing between 1931 and 1954induced several anomalies. With no male immigrant arriving in Addo over a period of some70 years, rates of inbreeding skyrocketed. From 1954 to 2000 a single bull sired all the elephant offspringin this park and this possibly explains why the number of tusked females here decreased from about50 per cent in 1930 to about three per cent in 2000. Furthermore, bulls here were killed in fights moreoften than anywhere else. Seventy to 90 per cent of deaths among bull elephants over a period of sevendecades were as a result of fighting. Fencing therefore made life more risky for bulls. In Addo, multiplewatering points reduced the distances over which breeding herds had to roam, thereby reducing calfmortalities induced by the stress that comes with long distance movements between food and water,thus explaining the unusually high growth rate of the population. Over the last few years things havechanged for elephants in Addo. Bulls have been introduced from elsewhere, fences have been shifted toprovide more land and water provisioning is under experimental manipulation.ELEPHANTS A way forward 41


Elephants need spaceThe home ranges of elephants that we tracked through satellite technologiesare mostly confined to areas within the boundaries of clusters ofprimary (IUCN category I to IV) and secondary (IUCN category V and VI)protected areas across southern Africa. Elephants that we studied did not distinguishbetween these categories, but their roaming beyond primary protectedareas suggests that national parks alone were not meeting their needs. Cowsmainly left primary protected areas during the wet season when rainfall increasedthe availability of water across the landscape, whereas bulls roamed widelythroughout the year. Roaming onto areas beyond national parks was not a functionof elephant densities in parks. This study highlights the importance of space,collectively provided by primary and secondary protected areas, for elephants.42 E L E P H A N T S A way forward


ECOLOGICAL NETWORKS CAN TEMPER IMPACTSAND MAINTAIN BIODIVERSITYWe could develop ecologicalnetworksSensible ecological networks incorporate the varyingenvironmental conditions that cater for the ecologicalprocesses that enable species to persist. Such conservationnetworks differ from small and isolated protectedareas that fail to provide for ecologicalprocesses and that need to be managed intensely andat a high cost. These isolated areas therefore arehighly artificial, ecologically dysfunctional and naturalprocesses cannot temper elephant impacts and maintainbiodiversity. Incorporating isolated areas into networkswill change this. This makes sense whenconsidering that the effectiveness of protected areasis not just about quantity, but also about their distributionand location. We know that many small isolatedparks are not as effective as a few networks of large,interconnected parks.Securing land for conservation is justified by our commitmentto maintain biological diversity. Biodiversity ismore than just a stamp collection of species. It also includesthe natural processes that enable species topersist. Conservation should aim to sustain theseprocesses, which due to the varying environmentalconditions typical of African savannahs, calls for the allocationof space configured according to the needs ofspecies. Space that includes diverse living conditionsenables habitat selection and brings about the unevendistribution of individuals across the land. Undercertain conditions habitat selection may structure apopulation into sub-populations with differing dynamics.The development of ecological networks will providefor these dynamics.Ecological networks could extend beyond the boundariesof present national parks. The reason is simple.Land beyond protected areas, even that occupied bypeople, also houses much biodiversity and can link populationsconfined to existing parks. Conservation relatedland uses in areas that surround national parkscould also buffer parks from the negative effects of isolation,area and edge effects on species persistence.For this to happen, people living alongside parks needto benefit from and not be threatened by wildlife andvice versa. In many places in Africa this already happens,as some of the major national parks are surroundedby game management areas that also caterfor the interests of the local people that live there. Benefitsto people often are coined in financial terms, butthere could be others, such as career opportunities andthe development of infrastructure provided by andmaintained through conservation channels.Would elephants benefit fromecological networks?Indeed, elephants would benefit, as would otherspecies. Networks based on the needs of elephantswould provide for the uneven distribution of elephants,reduce impact and reinstate the processes throughwhich numbers change with time and across space.From our recent work we know that elephants do notdistinguish between primary (IUCN categories I to IV)and secondary (IUCN categories V and VI) protectedland, which is inhabited by few people. However, someclusters of primary and secondary protected areas donot yet form ideal linked networks that could reinstatethe natural dynamics that stabilise elephant numbersand their impact on the environment. The KAZA-TFCA,which straddles the borders of five southern Africancountries and may incorporate nearly half of the region’selephants, is probably an exception. We still havetoo few networks of conservation areas that collectivelycater for elephants. We are fortunate that landhas been set aside for conservation, but it seems thatmany protected areas, especially those developed onprivate land or as provincial parks, are failing to ensurethe persistence of biological diversity.ELEPHANTS A way forward 43


A N G O L AZ A M B I AM A L A W IM O Z A M B I Q U EZ I M B A B W EN A M I B I AB O T S W A N ACONNECTIVITYHighS O U T H A F R I C ALowBarrierProtected Areas44 E L E P H A N T S A way forward


Could ecological networks linkelephant populations?The answer is a resounding yes. I base this statementon the ‘opinions’ of a large number of elephants thatwe have tracked over the past ten years. Based on ouranalyses of patterns of habitat selection by theseelephants and through the application of Circuit Theorywe now know that much of the land beyond protectedareas is still suitable for the development of ecologicalnetworks. Such development could expand southernAfrica’s conservation areas and link elephant populations.These networks could stretch from west to eastacross the sub-continent and could cater for the habitatneeds of elephants and will benefit many otherspecies.Factors limiting connectivity across southern Africainclude access to surface water in the west and a highhuman density in the east. For instance, elephants inthe Etosha are effectively isolated by the lack of waterand steep terrain in areas to the east.Elephants recolonised areas in southeastern Angolaafter the civil war ended in 2002, but due to habitatlimitations it is unlikely they will cross the arid regionsof north-central Namibia and south-central Angola.On the eastern side of the sub-continent, the potentiallink between Luangwa in Zambia and Niassa in Mozambiqueis limited by high human density in Malawi.Unfortunately, Malawi has almost no areas outside ofparks and game reserves where few people live andwhere linkages could connect elephants in Luangwaand Niassa with each other. These problems aside,opportunities exist to link existing protected areas intothree colossal ecological networks that cover the rangeof most of southern Africa’s elephants. However, thisis all on paper – the realities still need further investigation,on the ground verification, societal input andagreement, as well as political will. This is one of ourfuture responsibilities to elephants.Circuit Theory to identify suitable habitat to extend networksBy consulting with elephants, we know where they prefer to live. They like flat terrain nearwater with moderate tree cover and, preferably, far from people. We use this information andapply it to areas where elephants do not currently exist, to see if high quality habitats for elephantsexist elsewhere. The purpose of this is to see if existing parks and protected areas can be connected;allowing elephants to move more freely between these areas and reduce locally inflatedelephant numbers. We first identify areas which could be suitable for elephants across southern Africa.It effectively allows us to test whether a string of high quality habitats exists which could connectexisting parks. Using the resulting map (page 44), we can visualise and predict how elephants will ‘flow’across the landscape.ELEPHANTS A way forward 45


About spaceSpace is not merely size. Size is not whatmatters. It is about the variety of resources,the distances between these resources, theconnectivity between these resources andwhat happens to these over time and acrossspace. That’s what matters. Space thus includesvariability in living conditions, the distributionof and distances between essentialresources, the connectivity between idealhabitat, and the configuration of ideal andmarginal habitat, all of which determine howelephants respond to space. Knowing howelephants respond to space is at the essenceof managing space to provide for their persistence,for the persistence of species uponwhich they feed and species with which theylive. Applying such knowledge can providefor a new dawn in conservation management.Elephants need this, and so do we.46 ELEPHANTS A way forward


What else could be achievedthrough the development ofecological networks?We could secure species populations, evade extinctioncrises, improve land use options and extend conservationbenefits to a wider spectrum of society. We knowfrom recent research that species in protected areasare not freed from the extinction crisis. Much has beenwritten on the reasons for these failures, but mostthereof boils down to a lack of sufficient and efficientspace. Securing space to ensure that biological diversitywill be maintained and that all species will persistis in reality beyond the abilities of relatively small fractionsof land that have been set aside for conservation.Space can be provided by linking isolated and relativelysmall protected areas into ecological networks. Spacealso can be secured by extending conservation incentivesto areas in the matrices that surround protectedareas. Several landowners and countries in southernAfrica have done so. Here many of the larger primaryprotected areas (i.e. the IUCN categories I to IV protectedareas) are surrounded by secondary protectedareas (categories V to VI), with no hard boundaries orfences between them. Elephants that live in theseprimary protected areas roam onto secondary protectedareas, where few people live.The call for space is no longer new nor is it noveland mostly prides itself in promises of the economicdevelopment of rural societies, on sharing conservationbenefits among land use options and on cateringfor ecological processes. These processes includespace or connectivity to allow natural movementpatterns of species. Extending space or developingnetworks of protected areas through corridors that linkexisting conservation areas features high on theagendas of NGOs operating across sub-Saharan Africa.ELEPHANTS A way forward 47


How will elephants respond toecological networks and space?The linking of land into ecological networks rather thanmanaging numbers and providing artificial wateringpoints makes ecological sense for elephants. But doelephants respond to this? We have one case study toreflect on the recent expansion of South Africa’sKruger National Park.For elephants in South Africa’s Kruger National Parkthings will never be the same. As a result of the foresightof Kruger’s managers, since the 1990s Kruger hasshed its legacy of confinement, artificial wateringpoints and culling. Here culling was discontinued in1994. At about the same time management started reducingthe number of water points in Kruger, fromsome 340 in 1995 to a mere 116 in 2008. Since 2002part of the fence that earlier isolated elephants fromlandscapes to the east was dropped. The space forelephants thus increased from ~20 000 to ~30 000square kilometres. The population has now had theopportunity to respond to this changed environment.Though still early days, our interpretation of yearlycounts from 1967 to 2012 shows that the end of cullingin 1994 was followed by a rapid increase in elephantnumbers for some ten years, but since 2003 populationgrowth has decreased rapidly. Numbers in areasfurther than five kilometres from major rivers fluctuatedwithout any trend, and those within a zone of afive kilometre range of all major rivers have levelled offsince 2003.Consequently population numbers in 2012 (~14 700elephants) were just about 8 000 less than theyearly population increase of six per cent predicted byothers. How do we account for this difference?A first response would be that ‘they are now living elsewhere’.For Kruger that elsewhere could be either tothe east, west or north, but properties adjoining Krugernow only account for about 3 000 elephants and notfor the projected ~8 000 elephants. Realised populationgrowth thus must have been considerably lowerthan predicted. The levelling-off of numbers in Krugeris similar to that which we have noted for long-termand statistically sound census data elsewhere; 22 of 36populations across southern and East Africa have stabilisedin numbers for at least ten years. Modelling suggeststhat rainfall and related food availability explainthe level at which these populations have stabilised. Itis too early to predict long-term trends in elephantnumbers in Kruger, but for now we have some supportfor the notion that numbers will fluctuate and stabilisein response to the restoration of natural limitingprocesses. Management that nurtures this approach issteering a new era of conservation that provides for atransition from static to dynamic management thatconsiders the responses of populations to changes inresource availability.More importantly, however, is that Kruger’s elephantsnow operate as distinct demographic entities withdiffering birth and survival rates, and hence as a typeof metapopulation. Reliance on a more natural distributionof water as a key resource now probably allowsfor variability in rainfall to exercise stronger influenceson breeding and survival rates. In essence this shouldinduce greater variability in growth rate and ultimatelyin the stabilisation of the population. This suggests thatconservation goals that mimic natural processes canbe achieved through appropriate management. Suchpopulation structuring would maintain genetic variabilityas expected where elephant populations have notbeen interfered with. Maintaining genetic structure ispart and parcel of responsible conservation.Future conservation in our part of the world is morethan the efforts we put in place to manage numbers infenced-off places. Conservation without borders maywell become the focus of most of our future. After all,Africa has much to offer.48 ELEPHANTS A way forward


Are elephant populations structured?Space provides opportunities for the structuring of populationsinto sub-units that differ demographically and that might begenetically distinct. Our ongoing genetic, spatial and demographicstudies suggest that elephants in the Kavango-ZambeziTransfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA) are structured indistinct spatial units. This is most probably because this regionhosts one of Africa’s elephant populations that have not beenmanaged and are generally free to roam beyond country bordersacross a landscape of about 278 000 square kilometres.Based on mitochondrial DNA sequences (representing maternalgenetic characteristics) the elephants from KAZA’sHwange area in Zimbabwe appear genetically separated fromelephants in Botswana and Zambia, possibly indicating thatthese elephants originated from different founder populations.Although mitochondrial DNA showed three genetically distinctelephant groups, nuclear DNA microsatellites (representing acombination of paternally and maternally inherited geneticcharacteristics) suggests high gene flow across the entireKAZA region, with genetic differentiation occurring solely atthe edges. Based on mitochondrial DNA sequences (representingmaternal genetic characteristics) the elephants fromKAZA’s Hwange area in Zimbabwe appear genetically separatedfrom elephants in Botswana and Zambia, possibly indicatingthat these elephants originated from different founderpopulations. Although mitochondrial DNA showed three geneticallydistinct elephant groups, nuclear DNA microsatellites(representing a combination of paternally and maternally inheritedgenetic characteristics) suggests high gene flow acrossthe entire KAZA region, with genetic differentiation occuringsolely at the edges. This genetic population structure is probablycaused by social realities, where females tend to restricttheir activities to small areas while male elephants roam widelyacross the landscape.ELEPHANTS A way forward 49


50 E L E P H A N T S A way forward


TO SUMMARISEWhere Are We?Where Should We Be?• Our science-based understanding of elephants ismuch better than ever before.• We now have less than half the number of elephantswe may have had 50 years ago, and some populationsare now more isolated than before, some areexpanding their ranges, some are stable in numbers,some continue to increase, and some are threateningto collapse if left unprotected or unmanaged.• For conservation, we have set aside about a quarterof the land available for elephants, but about 70 percent of the presently known range of elephantsextends beyond protected areas.• Several protected areas are surrounded by humandominated landscapes and are not included into agreater network of sensible conservation areas.• Conflict between people and elephants is probablynow more frequent and intense than before, and therenewed poaching onslaught is eroding numbers incertain places.• Elephant populations are still sub-divided into politicaland administrative rather than ecological units.• We have entered an enlightened era where someauthorities embrace the scientific approach to conservation,while others continue to ignore scienceand misinform society and support a ‘command andcontrol’ approach to conservation.• We have entered a time where animal welfare andcompassionate conservation prevails – conservationthat considers the needs of elephants rather thanthe demands of landowners.• We should live in an informed society that continuesto embrace knowledge-based conservation managementthat benefits elephants without detractingfrom other species.• Where appropriate, elephant populations should belinked and collectively should be stable in numbers,but numbers and spatial use patterns should changeacross space and with time.• Where the spatial extent of elephants allows, weshould develop linkages between populations alongcorridors that are based on elephant preferencesrather than political, societal and socio-economicneeds alone.• Conflict between people and elephants shouldbe minimised through acceptable zonation of landoccupation, and we should strive to create a societyabsent of greed-driven poaching. Conservationshould be based on ecological principles, while societaland acclaimed utilitarian needs should supportconservation, rather than vice versa.• Management should be informed by science andadapted to suit regional rather than local conservationaspirations.• Politicians and other decision makers should acceptthat elephants do best when treated as ecologicalentities, where their responses to varying resourcesrather than perceived economic value assure persistence.ELEPHANTS A way forward 51


52 E L E P H A N T S A way forward


CERUThe Conservation Ecology Research Unit was established in 1998 and is funded through grants from nationaland international organisations and private industry. These grants provide for the employment of researchfellows, support staff and postgraduate bursaries. Research focuses on a scientific foundation for conservationand CERU is widely recognised for reaseach on the conservation and ecology of elephants.Our scientific publications onelephantsAllen, W.R., Mathias, S.S., Wooding, F.B.P., Skidmore,J.A. & van Aarde, R.J. (2002) Placentation in theAfrican elephant, Loxodonta africana. 1. Endocrinologicalaspects. Reproduction 60: 105-116.Allen, W.R., Mathias, S., Wooding, F.B.P. & van Aarde,R.J. (2003) Placentation in the African elephant(Loxodonta africana); II Morphological changes in theuterus and placenta throughout gestation. Placenta24: 598-617.De Beer, Y., Kilian, W., Versfeld, W. & van Aarde, R.J.(2006) Elephants and low rainfall alter woody vegetationin Etosha National Park, Namibia. Journal ofArid Environments 64: 412-421.De Beer, Y. & van Aarde, R.J. (2008) Do landscapeheterogeneity and water distribution explain aspectsof elephant home range in southern Africa’s arid savannas?Journal of Arid Environments 72: 2017-2025.Ferreira, S.M. & van Aarde, R.J. (2008) A rapidmethod to estimate population variables for Africanelephants. Journal of Wildlife Management 72(3):822-829.Grainger, M., van Aarde, R.J. & Whyte, I. (2005)Landscape heterogeneity and the use of space byelephants in the Kruger National Park, South Africa.African Journal of Ecology 43: 369-375.Greyling, M.D., van Aarde, R.J. & Potgieter, H.C.(1997) Ligand specificity of uterine oestrogen andELEPHANTS A way forward 53


progesterone receptors in the sub adult Africanelephant. Journal of Reproduction & Fertility 109:199-204.Greyling, M.D., Ford, M., Potgieter, H.C. & van Aarde,R.J. (1998) The influence of gestation on uterinesteroid receptor concentrations in the Africanelephant, Loxodonta africana. Biology of Reproduction58: 60-64.Guldemond, R.A.R., Lehman, E.R., Ferreira, S.M. &van Aarde, R.J. (2005) Elephant numbers in KafueNational Park, Zambia. Pachyderm 39: 50-56.Guldemond, R. & van Aarde, R.J. (2007) The impactof elephants on plants and their community variablesin South Africa’s Maputaland. African Journal ofEcology 45: 327-335.Guldemond, R. & van Aarde, R.J. (2008) A metaanalysisof the impact of African elephants onsavanna vegetation. Journal of Wildlife Management72(4): 892-899.Guldemond, R.A.R. & van Aarde, R.J. (2010) The influenceof tree canopies and elephants on sub-canopyvegetation in a savanna. African Journal of Ecology48: 180-189.Hodges, J.K., van Aarde, R.J., Heistermann, M. &Hoppen H.-O. (1994) Progestin content and biosyntheticpotential of the corpus luteum of the Africanelephant (Loxodonta africana). Journal of Reproduction& Fertility 102: 163-168.Hodges, J.K., Heisterman, M., Beard, A. & van Aarde,R.J. (1997) Concentrations of Progesterone and the5 -Reduced Progestins, 5 -Pregnane-3,20-Dione and3 -Hydroxy-5 -Pregnan-20-One, in Luteal Tissue andCirculating Blood and Their Relationship to LutealFunction in the African Elephant, Loxodonta africana.Biology of Reproduction 56: 640-646.Harris, G.M., Russell, G.J., van Aarde, R.J. & Pimm,S.L. (2008) Rules of habitat use by elephantsLoxodonta africana in southern Africa: insights forregional management. Oryx 42(1): 66-75.Jackson, T.P., Mosojane, S., Ferreira, S.M. & vanAarde, R.J. (2008) Solutions for elephant Loxodontaafricana crop raiding in northern Botswana: movingaway from symptomatic approaches. Oryx 42: 83-91.Junker, J., van Aarde, R.J. & Ferreira, S.M. (2008)Temporal trends in elephant Loxodonta africananumbers and densities in northern Botswana: is thepopulation really increasing? Oryx 42: 58-65.Kinahan, A.A., Pimm, S.L. & van Aarde, R.J. (2007)Ambient temperature as a determinant of landscapeuse in the savanna elephant, Loxodonta africana.Journal of Thermal Biology 32: 47-58.Loarie, S.R., van Aarde, R.J. & Pimm, S.L. (2009)Fences and artificial water distort elephant movementsacross wet and dry savannahs. BiologicalConservation. doi: 10.1016/ j.biocon.2009.08.008.Loarie, S.R., van Aarde, R.J. & Pimm, S.L. (2009a)Elephant seasonal vegetation preferences acrossdry and wet savannahs. Biological Conservation.doi: 10/1016/ j.biocon.2009.08.021.54 ELEPHANTS A way forward


Morley, R.C. & van Aarde, R.J. (2007) Estimatingabundance for a savanna elephant population usingmark-resight methods: a case study for the TembeElephant Park, South Africa. Journal of Zoology,London 271: 418-427.Ntumi, C.P., van Aarde, R.J., Fairall, N. & De Boer,W.F. (2005) Use of space and habitat by elephants(Loxodonta africana) in the Maputo ElephantReserve, Mozambique. South African Journal ofWildlife Research 35: 139-146.Ntumi, C.P., Ferreira, S.M. & van Aarde, R.J. (2009)A review of historical trends in the distribution andabundance of elephants in Mozambique. Oryx 43(4):568-579.Olivier, P, Ferreira, S.M. &van Aarde, R.J. (2009)Dung survey bias and elephant population estimatesin southern Mozambique. African Journal of Ecology47: 202-213.Olivier, P.I., van Aarde, R.J. & Ferreira, S.M. (2009)Support for a metapopulation structure among mammals.Mammal Review 39(3): 178-192.Owen-Smith, N., Kerley, G., Page, B., Slotow, R. &van Aarde, R.J. (2006) A scientific perspective onthe management of elephants in the Kruger NationalPark and elsewhere. South African Journal of Science102: 389-394.Pimm, S.L. & van Aarde, R.J. (2001) African elephantsand contraception. Nature 411: 766.Roever, C.L.; van Aarde, R.J. & Leggett, K. (2012)Functional responses in the habitat selection of ageneralist mega-herbivore, the African savannahelephant. Ecography 35: 001–011.Roever, C.L.; van Aarde, R.J. & Leggett, K. (2013)Functional connectivity within conservation networks:Delineating corridors for African elephants.Biological Conservation 157: 128-135.Shrader, A., Ferreira, S.M. & van Aarde, R.J. (2006)Digital photogrammetry and laser rangefinder techniquesto measure African elephants. South AfricanJournal of Wildlife Research 36:1-7.Shrader, A.M., Ferreira, S.M., Mcelveen, M.E., Lee, P.C.,Moss, C.J. & van Aarde, R.J. (2006) Growth and agedetermination of African savanna elephants. Journalof Zoology, London. 270: 40-48.Shrader, A.M., Pimm, S.L. & van Aarde, R.J. (2010)Elephant survival, rainfall and the confoundingeffects of water provision and fences. BiodiversityConservation. 19: 2235–2245.Trimble, M., Ferreira, S.M. & van Aarde, R.J. (2009)Drivers of megaherbivore demographic fluctuations:inference from elephants. Journal of Zoology, London.279: 18-26.Trimble, M.J., van Aarde, R.J., Ferreira, S.M.,Norgaard, C.F., Fourie, J., Lee, P.C., Moss, C.J. (2011)Age Determination by Back Length for AfricanSavanna Elephants: Extending Age AssessmentTechniques for Aerial-Based Surveys. PloS ONE 6(10):e26614.ELEPHANTS A way forward 55


van Aarde, R.J., Whyte, I. & Pimm, S.L. (1999) Cullingand the dynamics of the Kruger National Park Africanelephant population. Animal Conservation 2: 287-294.van Aarde, R.J., Jackson, T.P. & Ferreira, S.M. (2006)Conservation science and elephant management insouthern Africa. South African Journal of Science102: 385-388.van Aarde, R.J. & Jackson, T.P. (2007) Megaparksfor metapopulations: addressing the causes of locallyhigh elephant numbers in southern Africa. BiologicalConservation 134: 289-297.van Aarde, R.J. & Ferreira, S. (2009) Elephant populationsand CITES trade resolutions. EnvironmentalConservation. 36(1): 8-10.van Aarde, R.J. (2011) Amboseli elephants – dividendsfrom a long-term incentive. Ecology 92(11): 2152-2153.van Aarde, R.J., Ferreira, S., Jackson, T., Page, B., DeBeer, Y., Gough, K., Guldemond, R., Junker, J., Olivier,P., Ott, T. & Trimble, M. (2008) Chapter 2: Elephantpopulation biology and ecology. In Elephant management:A scientific assessment for South Africa.Scholes, R.J. & Mennell, K.G. (eds), Wits UniversityPress, Johannesburg, South Africa. pp 84-145.Visscher, D.R., van Aarde, R.J. & Whyte, I. (2004)Environmental and maternal correlates of foetal sexratios in the African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) andsavanna elephant (Loxodonta africana). Journal ofZoology, London 264:111-116.Welsch, U., Feuerhake, F., van Aarde, R.J., Buchheim,W. & Patton, S. (1998) Histo- and cytophysiology ofthe lactating mammary gland of the African elephant(Loxodonta africana). Cell & Tissue Research 294:485-501.Whyte, I., van Aarde, R.J. & Pimm, S. (1998) Managingthe elephants of Kruger National Park. Animal Conservation1: 77-83.Whyte, I.J., van Aarde, R.J. & Pimm, S.L. (2003)Kruger’s elephant population: its size and consequencesfor ecosystem heterogeneity. In The KrugerExperience: Ecology and Management of SavannaHeterogeneity. J.T. du Toit, H. Biggs & K. Rodgers(eds), Island Press, Washington, DC, USA. pp. 332–48.Young, K., Ferreira, S.M. & van Aarde, R.J.(2009)The influence of increasing population size and vegetationproductivity on elephant distribution in theKruger National Park. Austral Ecology 34: 329-342.Young, K.D., Ferreira, S.M. & van Aarde, R.J. (2009)Elephant spatial use in wet and dry savannas ofsouthern Africa. Journal of Zoology. 278: 189-205.Young, K.D. & van Aarde, R.J. (2010) Density as anexplanatory variable of movements and calf survivalin savanna elephants across southern Africa. Journalof Animal Ecology 79: 662-673.Young, K.D. & van Aarde, R.J. (2011) Science and elephantmanagement decisions in South Africa. BiologicalConservation 144: 876-885. DOI:10.1016/j.biocon.2010.11.023.56 ELEPHANTS A way forward


Postgraduate dissertationsde Beer, Y. (2007) Determinants and consequencesof elephant spatial use in southern Africa’s arid savannas.MSc thesis, University of Pretoria, Pretoria,South Africa.Ford, M. (1998) Steroidogenic activity of the placenta,corpus luteum and blood of the African elephant,Loxodonta africana. MSc thesis, University of Pretoria,Pretoria, South Africa.Greyling, M.D. (1997) Characterisation of uterineprogesterone and oestrogen receptors in the Africanelephant, Loxodonta africana. MSc thesis, Universityof Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa.Guldemond, R.A.R. (2006) The influence of savannahelephants on vegetation: a case study in the TembeElephant Park, South Africa. PhD thesis, University ofPretoria, Pretoria, South Africa.Junker, J. (2008) An analysis of numerical trends inAfrican elephant populations. MSc thesis, Universityof Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa.Lee, T. (2013) Determinants of protected area boundarycrossings by savannah elephants, Loxodontaafricana. MSc thesis, University of Pretoria, Pretoria,South Africa.Morley, R.C. (2005) The demography of a fragmentedpopulation of the savanna elephant(Loxodonta africana Blumenbach) in Maputaland. PhDthesis, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa.Ntumi, C.P. (2002) Space and habitat use byelephants (Loxodonta africana) in the MaputoElephant Reserve, Mozambique. MSc thesis,University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa.Ntumi C.P. (2012) A landscape approach to elephantconservation in Mozambique. PhD thesis, Universityof Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa.Olivier, P.I. (2009) An evaluation of southern Africa’selephant sub-populations as a metapopulation. MScthesis, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa.Ott, T. (2007) Landscape heterogeneity as a determinantof range utilization by African elephants(Loxodonta africana) in mesic savannas. MSc thesis,University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa.Roever, C.L. (2013) Spatial determinants of habitatuse, mortality and connectivity for elephant populationsacross southern Africa. PhD thesis, University ofPretoria, Pretoria, South Africa.Whyte, I.J. (2001) Conservation management of theKruger National Park elephant population. PhD thesis,University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa.Young, K.D. (2010) Functional correlates for elephantspatial use in southern African savannas and someimplications for management. PhD thesis, Universityof Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa.ELEPHANTS A way forward 57


58 E L E P H A N T S A way forward


OUR SUPPORTERSFor the past ten years our research has benefited from the support provided by:• Abu Family Foundation• Bateleurs• BHP Billiton• Botswana Department of Wildlife & National Parks• Conservation International’s Southern Africa Wilderness Programme• Conservation Foundation Zambia• Conservation Lower Zambezi• Direcção Nacional de Areas de Conservação, Mozambique• Elephants Without Borders• International Fund for Animal Welfare• Mozal Community Development Trust• National Research Foundation• Namibian Ministry of Tourism & Environment• National Postcode Lottery, Netherlands• Malawian Wildlife Department• Peace Parks Foundation• South African National Parks• Tracks4Africa• US Fish & Wildlife Services• University of Pretoria• WWF (SARPO; Mozambique; SA)• Wilderness Safaris• Wings4Wildlife• Zambian Wildlife AuthorityELEPHANTS A way forward 59


Rudi van Aarde is a full professorat the Department ofZoology & Entomology inthe Faculty of Natural andAgricultural Sciences of theUniversity of Pretoria. Fromhere he directs the Conservation EcologyResearch Unit. He is widely recognised forhis research on the ecology of elephants, especiallyfor the development of the ‘megaparksfor metapopulations’ concept thatfocusses on causes rather than symptoms ofconservation issues.He has authored or co-authored 166 peerreviewedpapers in prestigious scientificjournals, 11 book chapters and numerouspopular articles. Fifty four PhD and MScstudents completed their studies under hissupervision, many of whom are now at theforefront of conservation-related research.Rudi is an active member of several scholarlysocieties, regularly reviews papers forhigh impact factor scientific journals andfrequently advises industry, government andconservation organisations on conservationrelatedissues. The University of Pretoriahas awarded him for exceptional academicachievement on four occasions, and he is aFellow of the Royal Society of South Africa.60 ELEPHANTS A way forward


THE PHOTOGRAPHSChobe, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 400mm f2.8 IS II USM400mm1/400 sec. f/4.0ISO 160Addo, South AfricaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 400mm f2.8 IS II USM400mm1/1250 sec. f/3.2ISO 200Savuti, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IIIEF 85mm f1.2 L USM85mm1/2000 sec. f/2.5ISO 320Painting on door, unknown artist,Bangweulu wetlands, ZambiaCanon EOS-1D Mark II NEF 300mm f2.8 IS USM +1.4x420mm1/160 sec. f/5.0 ISO 250Chobe, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 70-200mm f2.8 IS USM105mm1/100 sec. f/2.8ISO 100Chobe, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 400mm f2.8 IS II USM400mm1/60 sec. f/4.0ISO 400Etosha, NamibiaCanon EOS-20DEF 300mm f2.8 IS II USM300mm1/100 sec. f/7.1ISO 100Savuti, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IIIEF 85mm f1.2 L USM85mm1/500 sec. f/2.5ISO 320Chobe, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IIIEF 300mm f2.8 IS II USM300mm1/160 sec. f/5.6ISO 400Chobe, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 400mm f2.8 IS II USM400mm1/200 sec. f/4.5ISO 400Addo, South AfricaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 400mm f2.8 IS II USM400mm1/2500 sec. f/3.5ISO 400Chobe, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 400mm f2.8 IS II USM +1.4x560mm1/80 sec. f/8ISO 400Chobe, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IIIEF 300mm f2.8 IS II USM +1.4x420mm1/800 sec. f/6.3ISO 250Chobe, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IIIEF 500mm f4 IS II USM +1.4x500mm1/250 sec. f/5ISO 400Etosha, NamibiaCanon EOS-20DEF 300mm f2.8 IS II USM300mm1/800 sec. f/4ISO 200Futi Corridor, MozambiqueCanon EOS-1D Mark IIIEF 28-70mm70mm1/6400 sec. f/3.5ISO 400Addo, South AfricaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 400mm f2.8 IS II USM400mm1/1600 sec. f/4.0ISO 400South Luangwa, ZambiaCanon EOS-1D Mark IIIEF 300mm f2.8 IS II USM +1.4x420mm1/1400 sec. f/5.6ISO 400ELEPHANTS A way forward 61


Chobe, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 400mm f2.8 IS II USM400mm1/640 sec. f/4.0ISO 400Selinda Spillway, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark II NEF 28-70mm f2.8 L USM45mm1/5000 sec. f/2.8ISO 200Savuti, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IIIEF 28-70mm f2.8 L USM70mm1/640 sec. f/3.5ISO 400Chobe, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IIIEF 70-200mm f2.8 IS USM +1.4x280mm1/20 sec. f/4ISO 200Chobe, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 400mm f2.8 IS II USM400mm1/500 sec. f/4.0ISO 400Kruger, South AfricaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 24mm f1.4 USM400mm1/125 sec. f/18ISO 400Chobe, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IIIEF 500mm f4 IS II USM500mm1/100 sec. f/5ISO 400Chobe, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark II NEF 300mm f2.8 IS II USM300mm1/80 sec. f/5ISO 200Chobe, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 400mm f2.8 IS II USM400mm1/640 sec. f/4.0ISO 400Chobe, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 400mm f2.8 L II400mm1/160 sec. f/3.2ISO 200Mapungubwe, South AfricaCanon EOS-1D Mark IIIEF 14mm f2.8 IS USM +1.4x14mm1/250 sec. f/6.3ISO 125Chobe, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 400mm f2.8 IS II USM400mm1/250 sec. f/2.8ISO 400Kruger, South AfricaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 400mm f2.8 IS II USM400mm1/4000 sec. f/3.5ISO 400Kruger, South AfricaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 24mm f1.4 USM24mm1/160 sec. f/5.6ISO 320Kruger, South AfricaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 24mm f1.4 USM24mm1/160 sec. f/2.2ISO 400Kruger, South AfricaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 24mm f1.4 USM24mm1/3200 sec. f/2.2ISO 400Maruppa, MozambiqueCanon EOS-20DEF 300mm f2.8 IS II USM300mm1/800 sec. f/6.3ISO 200Kasane, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 400mm f2.8 IS II USM400mm1/200 sec. f/4.0ISO 32062 ELEPHANTS A way forward


Savuti, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IIIEF 85mm f1.2 L USM85mm1/500 sec. f/2.5ISO 320Chobe, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 400mm f2.8 IS II USM400mm1/2500 sec. f/4.0ISO 200Abu, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IIIEF 85mm f1.2 L USM85mm1/200 sec. f/9ISO 100Chobe, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 400mm f2.8 IS II USM400mm1/400 sec. f/2.8ISO 200Chobe, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 400mm f2.8 IS II USM +1.4x560mm1/50 sec. f/4ISO 400Chobe, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 400mm f2.8 IS II USM400mm1/400 sec. f/6.3ISO 250Chobe, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 400mm f2.8 IS II USM +1.4x560mm1/800 sec. f/5.6ISO 250Chobe, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 400mm f2.8 IS II USM +1.4x560mm1/100 sec. f/4ISO 400Chobe, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark II NEF 70-200mm f2.8 IS USM120mm1/800 sec. f/3.2ISO 100Chobe, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 400mm f2.8 IS II USM400mm1/250 sec. f/2.8ISO 400Kruger, South AfricaCanon EOS-1D Mark IIIEF 28-70mm f2.8 L USM70mm1/5000 sec. f/2.8ISO 320Chobe, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 400mm f2.8 IS II USM400mm1/320 sec. f/5ISO 400Northern BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 24mm f1.4 USM24mm1/400 sec. f/3.5ISO 250Chobe, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 400mm f2.8 IS II USM400mm1/250 sec. f/4.5ISO 400Kruger, South AfricaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 400mm f2.8 IS II USM400mm1/400 sec. f/3.2ISO 200Chobe, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark II NEF 500mm f4 IS II USM500mm1/400 sec. f/4.0ISO 200Chobe, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 400mm f2.8 IS II USM400mm1/200 sec. f/3.5ISO 320Addo, South AfricaCanon EOS-1D Mark II NEF 28-70mm f2.8 L USM45mm1/2650 sec. f/4ISO 250ELEPHANTS A way forward 63


Addo, South AfricaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 400mm f2.8 IS II USM400mm1/2000 sec. f/4.0ISO 400Chobe, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IIIEF 28-70mm f2.8 L USM70mm1/4000 sec. f/4.0ISO 250Savuti, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IIIEF 300mm f2.8 IS II USM300mm1/320 sec. f/5.6ISO 400Northern BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IIIEF 85mm f1.2 L USM85mm1/40 sec. f4.5ISO 50Caprivi, NamibiaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 400mm f2.8 IS II USM400mm1/800 sec. f/3.2ISO 400Southern MozambiqueCanon EOS-1D Mark IIIEF 24mm f1.4 USM24mm1/500 sec. f/5.0ISO 200Addo, South AfricaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 400mm f2.8 IS II USM400mm1/1250 sec. f/4.5ISO 400Savuti, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IIIEF 300mm f2.8 IS II USM300mm1/250 sec. f/5.0ISO 400Chobe, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 400mm f2.8 IS II USM +1.4x560mm1/125 sec. f/4ISO 200Chobe, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 400mm f2.8 IS II USM400mm1/1000 sec. f/4ISO 400Chobe, BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 400mm f2.8 IS II USM400mm1/200 sec. f/4ISO 400Kruger, South AfricaCanon EOS-1D Mark IIEF 400mm f2.8 IS II USM45mm1/1260 sec. f/4.0ISO 250Northern BotswanaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 400mm f2.8 IS II USM400mm1/2000 sec. f/5.0ISO 400Addo, South AfricaCanon EOS-1D Mark IIIEF 300mm f2.8 IS II USM300mm1/200 sec. f/3.2ISO 400Addo, South AfricaCanon EOS-1D Mark IVEF 400mm f2.8 IS II USM400mm1/200 sec. f/6.3ISO 400Addo, South AfricaCanon EOS-1D Mark IIIEF 300mm f2.8 IS II USM300mm1/640 sec. f/3.2ISO 16064 ELEPHANTS A way forward


Conservation EcologyResearch Unit (CERU)Department of Zoology and EntomologyUniversity of Pretoria 0002Tel: +27 (12) 420 2535Email: rjvaarde@zoology.up.ac.zahttp://www.ceru.up.ac.za


®About IFAW(the International Fund for Animal Welfare)Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisisaround the world. With projects in more than40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals,works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocatesfor the protection of wildlife and habitats.For more information, visit www.ifaw.org.Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.IFAW Southern AfricaSuite 3Steenberg HouseSteenberg Office ParkSilverwood CloseTokai 7945Cape TownSouth AfricaTel: +27 21 701 8642Fax: + 27 21 701 8649Email: info-za@ifaw.orgVisit www.ifaw.org to contactother IFAW offices in:AustraliaBelgiumCanadaChinaFranceGermanyIndiaJapanKenyaThe NetherlandsRussiaUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited States

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