Debunking Critical Assumptions to Improve Forest Elephant Censusing and Monitoring, Gabon
African forest elephants are disappearing at an alarming rate, yet due to their habitat and existing census methodology it is difficult to obtain accurate population estimates which are essential for conservation management and strategic planning. This project focuses on accurate population estimates for forest elephants by establishing objective criteria for field observers to identify independent defecation events, developing a dynamic model of dung decay rates, and deriving a spatio-temporal model for the probability that two dung piles came from the same elephant. Similar work done for other species have improved population estimates 10-20 fold. Accurate population monitoring will empower park managers to make informed, adaptive management decisions, and be a strong start in the conservation of forest elephants.