The Elephant Managers Association is committed to supporting the survival and welfare of African and Asian elephants around the world. Discover some of the vital conservation work we are helping to support.
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Recovery of Murchison Falls National Park: Mapping the Potential Conservancy North of Murchison Falls
Project Leader: Michael Keigwin, Uganda Conservation Foundation
Year Funded: 2019
The objective of this project is to provide clear mapping of the elephant ranges north of Murchison Falls National Park to support the protection of elephants and development in the region. Obtaining mapping of the area north of Murchison Falls National Park has been a considerable challenge. The 1:50000 maps from 1964 provide a decent paper version, however, since the human use of the area has changed considerably, and river courses have also meandered and changed a little.
Eight years ago, mapping of the country was done while the country reviewed geothermal and other mining opportunities. These files, while not focused on our need, provided a boost to the quality of files and data available.
Using African Forest Elephant Behavioral Ecology to Inform Anti-poaching Strategies
Project Leader: Amelia Meier, Duke University
Year Funded: 2019
The African forest elephant (Loxodonta africana cyclotis) faces extinction. Poaching is the principal cause of mortality, devastating forest elephant populations to the point of extirpation. Unfortunately, current anti-poaching efforts are largely reactive − where ecoguards patrol areas based on the presence of elephant carcasses or signs of hunting. We are creating innovative conservation solutions based on scientific research to proactively protect the remaining forest elephants. In collaboration with Gabon's Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux (ANPN), the Poulsen Lab at Duke University placed GPS-collars on 56 elephants belonging to unique family groups in four protected areas. Our project, the Forest Elephant Movement and Behavioral Ecology Project (FEMBE), started in 2015, tracks the collared elephants both remotely and in the field, gathering critical information to promote forest elephant conservation management and stem the loss of forest elephants in Gabon.
This project seeks to predict areas where forest elephants are likely to form large aggregations, empowering managers to actively patrol where forest elephants are located. Specifically, we are combining satellite and genetic technologies to investigate forest elephant social ecology and resource selection to accurately determine the ecological drivers of forest elephant aggregations. We are employing genetic analysis (single nucleotide polymorphisms, SNPs) to identify individuals from dung samples and determine group sizes, overcoming the impeding difficulty of directly observing forest elephant social ecology over time in the dense forest. With this information, we will create spatiotemporal models depicting forest elephant hotspots.
Musth Variation among Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus): Applications for Conservation and Management
Location: Sri Lanka
Project Leader: Chase LaDue, George Mason University
Year Funded: 2018
The endangered Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) is threatened by increased rates of human−elephant conflict (HEC). Adult male elephants are involved in HEC incidents at high rates, particularly when they exhibit "musth," a reproductive period characterized by increased testosterone and aggressive behavior. These males tend to exhibit risk-prone behavior and can be dangerous to people in the area. In Sri Lanka alone, 96 humans and 319 elephants were killed in 2018 due to HEC. An enhanced, more holistic understanding of musth in Asian elephants will help in the development of targeted HEC mitigation strategies.
An elephant's physical environment and access to other elephants almost certainly have impacts on musth duration, frequency, and intensity, all of which may also impact how and if certain male elephants engage in HEC. Assuming this is true, musth is a much more plastic phenomenon than previously though, which will affect how elephants should be managed around areas prone to HEC. This variability should be apparent both in terms of behavior and in terms of physiology (i.e., through fluctuating hormone concentrations). This project investigates the contextual flexibility of musth in Asian elephants, focusing on the influence of intrinsic (e.g., age, body condition) and extrinsic (e.g., climate, physical environment, social access) factors. A study such as this that integrates multiple data types will advance our understanding of musth in Asian elephants and inform conservation and management strategies for this endangered species.