Methods

Our overall research programme within GLTP represents a long-term study focused on understanding what motivates elephant movements from core conservation areas such as the Kruger National Park (KNP) into peripheral Protected Areas along its western, eastern and northern borders.

  • Objective 1 – We track elephant movements using advanced GPS and GMS technology in order to understand their habitat use. By identifying specific elephants, we study population dynamics and objectives relating to the drivers of elephant movements.
  • Objective 1&2 – We identify, track and monitor large-tusked and potentially large-tusked individuals to record their movements and fitness, in terms of annual musth cycles. In doing so, we are offering them a measure of protection. We have deployed a number of collars on large-tusked bulls, some of which have gained public support and recognition.
  • Objective 3&4 – We provide information on the effects of elephants as drivers of ecosystem change in relation to indicator species such as large trees (primary) and selected tree nesting birds (secondary). Individual trees are monitored over time to establish rates of change in important landscape features.
  • Objective 5 – We experiment with methods of alleviating the impact that elephants have on trees by wire-netting large trees or using beehives as natural deterrents, thus increasing food security for other species including humans. This information contributes towards improving our knowledge of the ecological processes that promote the sustainable coexistence of elephants, their habitats and people.
  • Objective 6 – We monitor and compare elephant mortality rates and causes thereof within the continental context. The southern states (Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe) have become the last stronghold for the African elephant due to uncontrolled poaching to the north of these borders.
  • Objective 6 – We initiate research projects as well as collaborate with established research sites across the southern states to deepen our understanding on how different land-use practises influence the movements, survival and the conservation significance of elephants.