The Effects of Translocation on the Behavior and Habitat Use of African Elephants, Kenya
African elephants are situated in a paradoxical situation. On one hand they are listed as an endangered species on CITES Appendix I, banning trade in elephant products. On the other hand, elephants are constantly engaged in human-elephant conflicts, causing death and destruction due to the conversion of elephant habitats into agricultural lands (Lee and Graham 2006). One possible solution for this conflict, which is sensitive to the elephants’ endangered status, is a well designed translocation.
Translocating elephants as a management tool has been practiced in southern Africa and east Africa since the 1970s (Dublin & Niskanen 2003). Even though many elephants have been translocated over the years, virtually no research has been conducted to determine the effects of translocation on elephants and whether this method is indeed a practical management tool for solving human-elephant conflicts.
Monitoring the activities of elephants post translocation will enable an evaluation of elephants’ success in a new habitat and will provide important information regarding the conservation value of translocations as a management tool for solving human-elephant conflict. This study will provide valuable conservation and management information regarding the factors contributing to successful translocations of elephants by monitoring the movement patterns, physical state, and behavior of the translocated elephants in their new habitat and comparing them to the local elephant population in Tsavo East, Kenya. Variation in the adjustment rates of different translocated elephant groups and whether the adjustment is correlated with matriarch age, frequency of encounters with the local population, group size, and group composition will assist in choosing the age and group composition of elephants for future translocations. Through training local field assistants in radio tracking and data analysis techniques, this project will also facilitate capacity building to ensure monitoring of future translocations.
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