Research activities

Identifying individual elephants in order to study population dynamics
  • West of the Kruger National Park (APNR)
  • Since 1996: An extensive individual elephant ID database of 1500+ elephants.
  • Northern Kruger National Park (Makuleke Concession)
  • Since 2008: An ID database of 100+ bulls and the identikits of
  • 11 independent breeding herds.

Tracking elephants using advanced technology (GPS-satellite and GPS/GMS collars) to understand habitat use
  • Western Kruger National Park
  • Since 1998: 62 collaring operations including 17 re-collarings.
  • We currently have distribution data spanning 10 years from 8 herds and 29 bulls (ranging in age from 12 to 50 years).
  • Eastern Kruger National Park
  • December 2006: 7 GPS-satellite collars fitted on elephant bulls.
  • The focus is to gain a better understanding of elephant movements, their routes and under what environmental conditions they move into the new Limpopo National Park in Mozambique.
  • A secondary aim is corroborate or refute the results of our research efforts to the west of Kruger National Park.
  • Northern Kruger National Park (Makuleke Concession)
  • October 2008: 12 GPS-satellite collars fitted on elephants (6 bulls, 6 cows).
  • 2012: nine of these elephants were re-collared
  • This project is in collaboration with the Kruger National Park, the Makuleke Community and The Wilderness Safari Trust.

Monitoring individual trees over time to establish rates of change in important landscape features
  • In 2004 we initiated an individual tree monitoring programme. We are currently surveying 2971 individually labelled trees to determine their survival rate and the influences of accumulative elephant impact, wind toppling, insect attack or the effects of fire.
  • On an annual basis, we monitor 62 large trees used by southern ground hornbills as nesting sites to understand the influence of elephant impact on these sites.
  • We monitor 226 trees used by raptors and white back vultures as nesting sites to understand the influence of elephant impact on these sites.

Experiment with various methods of alleviating elephant tree impact and provide scientific knowledge to all stakeholders
  • Testing the efficacy of wire netting large trees in order to protect them and to foster positive human-elephant interactions, as large trees are considered to be of ecological and aesthetic importance to landowners.
  • Establishing an experimental site where bees will be used as a deterrent for elephant impact, thereby providing food security for other species, including humans.