UPDATED: VIDEO + Fresh Analysis on The Recent Tsavo Elephant Collaring
It has been about two months since we first collared this small group and, although we do not yet have enough scientific information to make conclusions, the exercise has already provided some interesting observations...
ORIGINAL POST: 5.17.11
Firstly, watch Fred O'Regan and myself below explaining the effort that lead to our gathering of this data.
International Fund for Animal Welfare President and CEO Fred O'Regan helps a team to tranquilize and collar African elephants for satellite tracking. This will allow migratory routes to be mapped ensuring that critical paths are secured to prevent human-elephant conflict.
Now, after 52 days of following the elephants that were collared in March 2011, two interesting observations can already be made.
First; the females move out of the park while the males are on ”good behavior” and stay inside the safety of the park.
Going outside the park can be a good thing or bad thing.
Good because it confirms that elephants need pasture outside the park, thus justifying one of our collaring objective; identifying the corridors elephants use to get to the dispersal areas they use.
In addition, since it is females that are going out of the park, it can be argued that these dispersal areas may be important as breeding grounds, which would give them extra ecological significance for the survival of Tsavo elephants.
But it can be bad because security is not as high outside the park. And, in addition, the chances of conflict with people are increased, which can sometimes lead to injury or death for both elephants and humans.
That fact leads us to the other objective of collaring the elephants: To provide concrete data to the communities near the park about elephant movements so they can identify and develop compatible land use practices and community conservancies.
The second observation has to do with the male collared elephants. Whilst one of them (EM) has stayed in the safety of the park, the other has ventured just outside the eastern boundary at night but was sure to be back in the park by daylight!
This interesting behavior begs the question: Why do the males stay inside the park -- and if they do go out, why do they stay close to the periphery and get back by daylight?
One could postulate that it is learned behavior: Poachers often target adult male elephants for their tusks. Elephant tusk size is dimorphic, meaning that males’ tusks are much larger than those of females, hence poachers prefer targeting the males. Could the males of Tsavo have adapted to staying inside the park as a safety measure from poaching?
It has been about two months since we first collared this small group and, although we do not yet have enough scientific information to make conclusions, the exercise has already provided the interesting observations mentioned above.
The collaring of elephants showcases the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s hands-on, pragmatic science at work. The results will be used to develop conservation practices around the Tsavo parks that advance the well-being of both animals and people.
That is IFAW’s mission.
For more information about the International Fund for Animal Welfare effort to save animals in crisis around the world visit http://www.ifaw.org