Pachyderm

Online ISSN: 1026-2881
Publications
Article
Relatively little is known of social dynamics in forest elephants (Loxodonta africana cyclotis), although the fission-fusion model of sociality known in savannah elephants (Loxodonta africana africana) is used as a template. Until fission-fusion sociality or an alternative model is demonstrated, our understanding of how elephants use their environment remains incomplete. To date, there have been no published studies of associations between individuals in forest elephants. Direct observations of forest elephants made at forest clearings (bais) are here used as an approach to studying these questions. Bais represent a special environment, providing mineral and food resources, as well as potential social opportunities. We show that forest elephants at Mbeli Bai in Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park have association patterns that are consistent over time, and that certain conspecifics are preferred as associates in the bai environment. Coupled with significant differences in the group size and composition across age-sex classes, and a high proportion of sightings of lone individuals, we argue that the fission-fusion model of elephant sociality appears to hold for the bai environment. The extent of this system and the importance of bais as social resources remain to be explored.
 
Article
Immunocontraception has been proposed as a tool for managing African elephant populations threatening to. 'outgrow' a wildlife reserve. To date, however, the only immunocontraceptive technique tested on elephant cows is porcine zona pellucida (pZP) vaccination, in which solubilized pZP is injected together with an adjuvant to induce formation of circulating antizona pellucida antibodies, which block fertilization. A review of the literature on the use of pZP vaccination in free-ranging mammals reveals that the contraceptive efficacy ranges between 22% and 100% (15 trials, 2 in elephants). A pZP vaccine can be delivered by dart, but at present more than one inoculation is needed to ensure contraceptive antibody titres. Initial studies in elephants suggest that pZP vaccination is safe, even in pregnant animals, does not pass through the food chain and is reversible, at least in the short term. However, little is known about possible long-term side effects. Elephants are social animals that live in matriarchal herds, and inhibiting individual fertility and herd growth may have unforeseen longer-term consequences on behaviour and social structure. There is also a fear that immunization may favour weaker animals by preferentially sterilizing individuals capable of mounting a vigorous immune response, or that animals may become resistant to vaccination. In short, while pZP vaccination appears to be a promising tool for controlling elephant population growth, questions about the long-term side effects need to be answered before use on a large scale can be recommended.
 
Article
An electric fence is at present being constructed around the Maputo Elephant Reserve, Mozambique, to protect farmers from elephant raids. Elephants cause crop damage, estimated at US\$ 8800 yr-1, or US\$ 50 elephant-1. Elephants preferred maize, melons and beans and their raid frequency increased during the harvest seasons. The proportion of elephant crop damage was higher on more productive fields than the less productive ones. In the most affected areas 90␘f the farmers reported elephant crop damage; 26␘f the crops was lost to elephants. The total damaged area was estimated at 10␘f 983 ha of cultivated fields. The farmers felt that the traditional methods of frightening elephants were not effective. They preferred the option of constructing of an electric fence. The construction and maintenance of the 38-km electric fence is estimated at US\$41,100 per year. At present, annual fence construction costs are higher than the costs of crop damage. The fence will not only lead to a decrease in crop damage by elephants but will also contribute to a better control of poaching and of access by the people to the park.
 
Article
This paper summarizes rhino poaching, rhino horn seizure and stockpile data in Africa for 2000-2005. It is derived from a document prepared by TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, for the 14th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES in June 2007. The volume of horn entering illegal trade from Africa has increased significantly since 2000, indicating ongoing market demand and organized trade routes to the Middle and Far East. Through law enforcement, range States collectively recovered 42% of the potential number of rhino horns moving into illicit trade, but a minimum of 386 horns are believed to have evaded detection and were lost to illegal trade. Poached rhinos continue to supply most horns, with at least 252 rhinos detected as illegally killed during 2000-2005. However, prominence has been rising of horns acquired and laundered from private stockpiles and from legally hunted white rhinos in South Africa. With effective metapopulation management strategies, most range States in Africa have minimized poaching to levels at which their overall rhino populations continue to increase in numbers. Two notable exceptions are the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe, where respectively 59% and 12% of their 2003 rhino populations were illegally killed during 2003-2005. Where illegal activities have escalated in key rhino range States, two important factors limiting management effectiveness are the increased levels of criminal organization and a breakdown of socio-economic stability and governance. TRAFFIC recommends renewed international attention following recent CITES decisions, with a focus on problems in DRC, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
 
Article
In a survey of ivory items for retail sale conducted in June 1999 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, almost 10,000 ivory objects were found, the fourth largest in Africa after Abidjan, Harare and Cairo. In 2004 TRAFFIC and the CITES Secretariat gave encouragement and technical help to the Government of Ethiopia to solve this problem; in 2005 the government cracked down on this illicit trade by confiscating illegal ivory items and arresting all of the shop owners found with illegal ivory. A survey conducted soon afterwards counted only 78 ivory items in the shops and stalls. In early 2008, having been informed that numerous ivory items were once again for sale in Addis Ababa, we carried out a further survey. We found 2,152 ivory items for sale of which 1,790 had been crafted after 1990 (the year of the CITES ban). Although this is still a significant decline since 1999, the number of new items is still alarming. Tusks were being smuggled in from Kenya and Sudan for the six or so Addis Ababa ivory craftsmen, as well as tusks being used from Ethiopian elephants. The price for tusks had greatly increased from 1999 to 2008, but many ivory items, especially name seals and chopsticks, were cheap compared with the East Asian market, encouraging foreigners, especially Chinese, to buy them. We suggest that another initiative should be taken by the Ethiopian government with assistance from TRAFFIC to encourage officials yet again to enforce their laws against the illegal ivory trade.
 
Article
In elephant range states, human-elephant conflict (HEC) is considered a serious handicap to the possibility of peaceful coexistence between free ranging elephants and their neighbouring human communities. Among measures promoted to mitigate HEC, the use of chilli pepper as an olfactory repellent has been popularized as a passive form of deterrent. To extend its use, a gas dispenser was developed that employed ping-pong balls filled with chilli oil extract as projectiles. Following an initial test in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, iu 2007, a further series of field tests was conducted in Mozambique. Zambia and Zimbabwe over the 2013 period to improve the dispenser and to separate off the specific effects of chilli pepper. From >300 attempts to deter problem elephants, it was concluded that of the combination of noise, the impact of the projectile on the elephant and the release of a cloud of chilli pepper, only the exposure to chilli pepper functioned as an efficient deterrent. The paper discusses the problem of sourcing chilli pepper in sufficient quantities, and describes an advanced prototype of the dispenser using an industrial moulding process. Successful integration of this new device with other more traditional mitigation approaches may increase human tolerance of elephants by teaching the latter to respect established boundaries and stay away from farmed crops. © 2015 International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. All rights reserved.
 
Article
Murchison Falls Protected Area (MFPA) is the largest wildlife protected area in Uganda and forms one of the three sites that have been implementing the Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) programme since 2002. A population survey of the MIKE site was conducted in March 2010 with the objective of establishing numbers of elephants and other medium and large mammals. The SRF method was used to determine wildlife distribution and numbers in MFPA. This method relies on counting within a systematically obtained sample (Norton-Griffiths 1978). The results of the survey indicate a general recovery and increase of major species, especially elephants, following a huge decline in numbers as a result of accelerated poaching that followed the breakdown of law and order in the 1970s and early 1980s. Despite the fact that various methods were used in previous surveys, some in dry seasons and others in wet seasons, the results still show general species recovery and significant population increase of certain species. Most of the species-namely elephant, Uganda kob, giraffe, warthog, buffalo, hartebeest and waterbuck-are steadily increasing.
 
Article
A Midterm Review of the implementation of the “Conservation and Management Strategy for the Black Rhino in Kenya (2012-2016)” was undertaken between December 2014 and January 2015. This was prompted by serious concerns on its implementation and escalating cases of poaching in the first two years. The review was done through a combination of standard project review methods, visits undertaken in all rhino sanctuaries, and 62 persons interviewed. The Midterm Review report and draft action plans were later subjected to a stakeholder’s workshop where a final action plan was developed and adopted. The Midterm Review indicates there has been average to good progress towards achieving the objectives set out in the current Kenya black rhino Strategy although most were undertaken in an uncoordinated maimer. Further the Review indicates that efforts to halt the escalation in poaching have been fairly successful in 2014 compared to 2012 and 2013 thus resulting into an increase in black rhino number over the same periods. Given that the Strategy still enjoys support of all the stakeholders including major funding institutions interviewed, it means an opportunity to reinvigorate the remaining period of the strategy implementation exists. © 2015 International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. All rights reserved.
 
Article
During a short visit to Sudan and Ethiopia in April 2017, the author learned that in Sudan the wholesale price of raw ivory was USD 279/kg for a 1-3 kg tusk. There were 56 souvenir shops seen in Khartoum/Omdurman displaying 7,073 ivory items for sale. Several shops were selling significant quantities of recently-carved ivory items. Prices for both wholesale tusks and retail ivory items had more than doubled since the last published survey undertaken by Martin in 2005. Chinese were still the main customers. Most items were pendants and bangles. Ethiopia, in contrast, has improved its law enforcement efforts and justice system considerably following the government’s confiscation of ivory items from the shops in Addis Ababa in 2015, including extra vigilance at the airport and penalties implemented. Ivory items were no longer seen in the souvenir shops in 2017. Ethiopian officials, with support from the Chinese Embassy and other embassies and conservationists, must be commended for their ongoing law enforcement efforts and success. It is hoped the successful law enforcement strategies in Ethiopia can be emulated in Sudan. © 2017, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. All rights reserved.
 
Examples of left eye wrinkle patterns for two black rhinos from Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, UK. Top photographs show the eyes nearly closed, middle photographs show the eyes open, bottom drawings are of the key wrinkles. 
Summary of average judges scores
Analysis of errors made in the twinning test
Analysis of errors made in both eye wrinkle tests by best and worst judges
Article
Photograhic identification is used to identify individual black rhinos (Diceros bicornis) with the distinguishing features of sex, the size and shape of the anterior and posterior horns, peculiarities of the ears, the pattern of wrinkle contours on the snout, prominent scars and sores on the body, the state of the tail, body size including the size of a calf in relation to the mother and skin folds. Eye wrinkle patterns have received little attention but were found to be useful when separating a large number of photographs of 19 captive rhinos particularly for distinguishing individual sub-adults where other features such as horn length and shape were very similar. Each rhino was found to have unique eye wrinkle patterns which remained consistent when the eyes were open or closed. By developing and applying a series of tests, judgement errors that occur when reviewing eye wrinkle photographs were determined and are reported. Results show that individual black rhinos can be accurately identified from suitable photographs but, even for the best of the judges, using eye wrinkles alone to identify individual rhinos was not completely reliable.
 
Data on birth of the six white rhino calves born at Ziwa
Summary of location changes made by the Ziwa females in the research period
Location of the female rhinos at Ziwa in the period around their calving date
Associations of the female rhinos with other rhinos at Ziwa before and after their calving, shown as total hours/no. of events
Article
The paper presents details of the dispersal and social behaviour of the three adult female white rhinos at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Uganda in the period one month before, the month during and one month after calving where published information from other reserves is limited. All six births occurred during night-time hours in areas of dense habitat. Births took place within 32 hours of the older calves being chased away by their mothers. Each female moved within the rhinos’ preferred habitat of open woodland with short grass and spent most of her time alone with her new calf and little time associating with other rhinos in the population. Apart from the chasing away of the older calves, there was no indicator of an impending birth. © 2012, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. All rights reserved.
 
Article
An assessment of the CITES Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) programmeÊs 2001-2009 carcass database suggested that the trade in elephant meat, especially in the central African sub-region, may be an important factor underlying the illegal killing of elephants. The dynamics, scale and impact of the trade in elephant meat are not well understood and more information is required in order to improve the information in MIKEÊs database and for the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS), as well as to assist with the development of appropriate management solutions. In 2010 the IUCN/SSC African Elephant Specialist Group (AfESG) undertook a study on behalf of MIKE to investigate the elephant meat trade as a factor in illegal killing in four Central African countries. The results strongly suggest that elephant meat represents an important incentive for poachers to hunt elephants, but that it is secondary to ivory as a driver of illegal elephant killing. Since the potential income from the meat of a single elephant can exceed that from ivory, however, the elephant meat trade problem needs to be monitored closely and should receive increased attention by range State governments and wildlife conservation organizations.
 
Article
Elephants often impose costs including threats to human life and the destruction of crops and property on the people who share their range. Incidents of human–elephant conflict (HEC), especially crop destruction, are increasing in Africa, undermining efforts towards biodiversity conservation and food security. This study analysed the impact of crop destruction by African elephants on food security in Baringo District, Kenya. The study area was Mochongoi Division, which was stratified into three blocks: Kamailel, Mochongoi and Kimoriot. Data were collected through administering questionnaires to 40 households per block; 120 respondents were interviewed and data analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). Results from this study showed that HEC in the study area had reduced by 15% in 2006, by 20% in 2007, and by 29% in 2008. In addition, HEC was found to reduce household income by 35.1%. The crop most raided by elephants was maize, which accounted for 65.5% of all the HEC losses, next was beans (23.8%), then cabbage and potato. This study establishes that elephant presence in non-protected areas jeopardizes local community efforts to food security and undermines local livelihoods. Conservation agencies need to lobby and support the locals to venture into other income-generating activities, such as curio shops and ecotourism facilities, that are compatible with elephant conservation. Alternatively, Mochongoi elephants could be translocated to parks and reserves earmarked for wildlife conservation. © 2014, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. All rights reserved.
 
Article
Luanda, the capital of Angola, has the largest illegal retail ivory market in southern Africa today. In early 2014 we surveyed the retail outlets in and around Luanda and counted 10,888 recently carved ivory items without proper documentation, and thus illegal. These pieces had been crafted in central Africa and Angola, mostly from poached forest elephants. The tusks can be obtained wholesale in Luanda for USD 150–250/kg. We estimated 92% of the total worked ivory on display was in Mercardo do Artesanato in Benfica in the southern outskirts of Luanda. The vendors there are from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo and Angola. The buyers today are nearly all Chinese. There has been a huge increase in demand for worked ivory since 2005 due to the rising number of Chinese working in Angola, from 25,000 in 2006 to 260,000 in 2012. Items for the Chinese, such as jewellery, name seals, Buddhas and chopsticks, dominate the market. Retail prices can be a tenth of those in China, and construction workers go daily to Benfica market for worked ivory to bring back home. Not only is Angola acting as a main conduit for shipments of tusks wholesale to East Asia, but the blatant sale of ivory items in Benfica market encourages poaching as well. Angola needs urgently to enforce its domestic ban on ivory sales and the CITES ban. © 2014, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. All rights reserved.
 
Article
There was concerted effort, especially between the 1960s and 1990s, to increase the distribution of surface water in Kruger National Park (KNP). As a consequence, most of the park was within easy walking distance of a permanent water source for large, mobile herbivores during the peak of the water-for-game programme. This situation was unnatural and led to various unintended ecological effects. In reaction to this and in response to changing conservation and management paradigms, the water provision policy was revised in 1997. Since the policy change, about two-thirds of the more than 300 boreholes have been closed and many catchment dams have been breached in an ongoing process. This new approach towards water provision has a strong spatial focus and aims to recreate and mimic a more natural mosaic of spatio-temporal variability in surface water availability. KNP managers hope that the change in water provision will induce spatial and temporal variation in how elephants utilize landscapes, which is a key objective of the current KNP Elephant Management Plan. Although it seems unlikely that the reduced availability of water has had any numerical effects on the elephant population thus far, it did induce some spatial changes: elephants are now even more strongly attracted to the large river systems than before. More research is needed to ascertain whether surface water manipulation in KNP, where water is naturally relatively widely distributed, is effective in creating spatio-temporal refugia for biodiversity that are sensitive towards elephant impacts. © 2013, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. All rights reserved.
 
Article
By 2001, elephants had been translocated (mainly from Kruger National Park) to 58 small, fenced reserves in South Africa. All but two introductions took place since 1989. We document important aspects of the population dynamics of elephants in these reserves using data collected in a survey conducted in 2001. The mean population size was 45 elephants, with an average density of 0.25 elephants/km 2. Populations have a female bias with 0.79 males to females. Populations have 19% adult males, and 31% adult females. On average, almost 50% of the population comprises adult and subadult females, indicating an immanent potential for large population growth. Births were not significantly different from a 1:1 sex ratio. When two extreme populations were removed, mean mortality rate was 0.4% per annum. Population growth rates averaged 8.3%, but five reserves had growth rates above 13%, and the highest annual growth rate was 16.5% per annum. Twenty-seven populations already have densities above 0.2 elephants/km 2 , and eight reserves have densities above 0.4 elephants/km 2. Assuming a 12% per annum growth (feasible given the data presented), over half the reserves will have densities above 0.33 elephants/km 2 within five years. These results indicate that the translocation of elephants has been successful, with most populations reproducing at a rate far exceeding expectations. This has serious implications for owners and managers, as some form of population control (contraception, removals, culling etc.) needs to be urgently planned for implementation as soon as possible in most, and probably all small reserves.
 
Article
Wildlife corridors between protected areas play a critical role in maintaining genetic flow between increasingly isolated populations of many species. The importance of wildlife corridors for African savanna elephants (Loxodonta africana) has been well investigated. However, African forest elephants (Loxodonta africana cyclotis) are difficult to observe in dense tropical vegetation and much less is known about their ecology than about their savanna counterparts. The Sangha River forms an international border between Cameroon, Central African Republic and Republic of Congo and bisects the biologically rich transboundary Sangha River Trinational Conservation Area. The river serves as a primary route for human transportation and trade in the region, and therefore acts as a partial barrier to elephant movement between protected areas. We used a reconnaissance survey technique and dung counts combined with a GIS analysis to survey elephant crossings on the Sangha River. At present, radio-collaring elephants in dense forest is both logistically difficult and expensive, and therefore ground surveys provide a cheaper alternative method for identifying major elephant movement corridors. Results will contribute to a more targeted approach to anti-poaching patrol efforts in the transboundary area.
 
Article
Few studies have focused on the elephant population of W Regional Park in western Africa (Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger) with an essentially national perspective rather than a transfrontier one. During a four-month period from April to July 2004, two elephant females were radio-tracked to establish their transfrontier movements. A total of 556 locations were recorded. Home range sizes calculated using the 95% Kernel method were estimated at 2572 km(2) for one female and 1970 km(2) for the other. Home ranges for the two females largely overlapped with close associations recorded during the tracking period. Movements from Niger to the central part of the park (Burkina Faso) through northern Benin were observed at the beginning of the rainy season along the Mekrou River. Regional survey and management practices should be encouraged to allow this remaining large elephant population to maintain itself.
 
Official number of poached black rhinos in Kenya, 2003–2006 
Retail prices for jambiyas with rhino horn handles in Sanaa, March 2007 
Retail prices for new jambiyas with various cheaper handles in Sanaa, March 2007 
Article
Conservation organizations have neglected Yemen's role in the rhino horn trade since early 2003, with no attention given to the problem, although most horns from eastern Africa's poached rhinos are known to go there. Therefore, in early 2007 we collated data on rhino poaching in eastern Africa, and the first two authors carried out a survey in Yemen to update information on rhino horn smuggling. We learned that demand has risen substantially with the price of rhino horn up by 40% in four years, despite an increase in quantity of horns entering the country. We had meetings with decisionmakers to try to curtail the trade and improve public awareness to reduce demand for rhino horn.
 
Article
As I reflect over the last few months I am pleased to report that we have made considerable progress in all our main fields of activity. The new Reintroduc- tion Task Force met for the first time to discuss the development of guidelines for elephant translocation, and the Human-Elephant Conflict working group also convened to discuss ongoing projects and to deliber- ate on its future work plan. In the meantime, the Af- rican Elephant Database (AED) manager has intensified his efforts to digitize survey reports and other information to be incorporated into the 2002 African Elephant Status Report, and the programme officers in Yaoundé and Ouagadougou have contin- ued their efforts to bring AfESG expertise to bear in their respective subregions.
 
Article
African rhinos are suffering a new poaching onslaught for their high-priced horns. Despite intensified anti- poaching activities, the number of rhinos poached per day has continued to increase since 2008. Between 2010 and 2011 more than 1.5% of the African rhino population was poached each year: a higher percentage is projected for 2012. This trend in increased poaching will reverse overall positive rhino population growth in the long term. In response, a rhino emergency summit comprising representatives of rhino range States, the private sector, government officials and non-governmental organizations met in Nairobi during April 2012. Following this meeting, we propose an integrated framework directed at reducing the demand-and-supply ratio associated with the use of rhino horn. The framework is envisaged to guide short- as well as medium- to long-term responses by range States directed at reducing the incentives for poaching and ensuring the persistence of rhinos.
 
Article
The Nepal ivory industry has collapsed since early 2001, when the last survey was conducted. The few remaining craftsmen have stopped carving ivory. The number of shops selling ivory items has fallen from 57 in February 2001 to 19 in December 2012. During this period ivory items on display for sale in Kathmandu dropped from 1,546 to 208. Smuggled raw ivory from Africa and Asia used to come into Nepal via India, but both the India and the Nepal governments have improved their border controls. Wildlife law enforcement in Nepal has strengthened considerably since 2010 with the establishment of government committees and bureaus dealing with wildlife crime all over the country. All ivory is illegal to sell or to display in shops, and vendors are now reluctant to sell new ivory items and are trying to offload their last remaining ivory objects. Turnover is slow as customer demand has fallen, partly as Nepalese now prefer to buy gold items and also because foreign tourists (the main buyers) show little interest in buying ivory as the selection is poor and there is a greater risk entailed in smuggling worked ivory out of the country. Thus Nepal is not a threat to Africa’s or Asia’s elephants. © 2013, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. All rights reserved.
 
A. Shallow well dug by an elephant in a dry section of the Hoarusib River. B. An elephant well immediately adjacent to surface flowing water in the Hoarusib River. C. Elephants drinking from an elephant well in the dry bed of the Hoanib River. D. Artificial drinking pool at the East Presidential borehole, Hoanib River.  
Study area in northwestern Namibia. Sample locations 1–13 indicate pairwise comparisons between elephant wells and the nearest readily available water source; locations 14–24 indicate springs and surface pools as follows: 14 Ogams, 15 Sarusas, 16 Hoarusib River remnant pool, 17 Hoanib River spring at Dubis, 18 Ganias, 19 Hoarusib remnant pool, 20 Auses, 21 Orupembe, 22 Zebra, 23 and 24 Uniab floodplain springs. Locations 25 and 26 are East and West Presidential boreholes.  
Pairwise comparisons (1–13) of coliform bacterial concentrations in elephant wells dug by desertdwelling elephants (grey) compared with the nearest surface water source that could have been used by the elephants (dark grey). Numbers indicate the sample locations depicted in Figure 2. Comparisons 1–8 involved elephant wells dug next to flowing streams (3–100 m apart, mean = 32 m), and comparisons 9–13 involved elephant wells next to remnant pools or artificial drinking pools (30–1,800 m apart, mean = 1,092 m). Coliform counts from remote natural springs are shown in no. 14 to 24. Samples from surface water sources in comparisons 2, 8 and 10–13 exceeded the upper detection limit of the IDEXX kits (> 2,419 cfu/100 ml).  
Article
In the arid regions of southern Africa, elephants (Loxodonta africana) are known to dig wells using their feet and trunks to access water beneath the surface of dry sandy riverbeds. This behaviour is observed even in areas where surface water is readily available. Desert-dwelling elephants of northwestern Namibia also routinely damage borehole infrastructure to access water, even when water is available in artificial drinking pools. This study sought to determine the qualities of the water in ‘elephant wells’ and boreholes that prompt elephants to go to such extremes to access it. This study compared faecal coliform bacterial counts in water sampled from recently dug elephant wells and boreholes with samples from the nearest surface water available to elephants in the arid Kunene region of northwestern Namibia. Results of 13 pairwise comparisons collected over two field seasons revealed significantly lower coliform counts in the elephant wells than in the nearest surface water or drinking pools. Coliform counts from the two boreholes in the study area, periodically damaged by elephants, were also dramatically lower. Alternatively, we found no evidence that elephant wells were less saline than nearby surface waters. We conclude that these behaviours are attempts by elephants to access lesscontaminated drinking water. Understanding elephant behaviour in selecting water sources may also help in the development of more effective measures to protect artificial water sources and better provide for the needs of desert-dwelling elephants. © 2013, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. All rights reserved.
 
Article
On the IUCNÊs website, the preamble to the SSC states that the ÂIUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) is a science-based network of some 7,500 volunteer experts from almost every country of the world, all working together towards achieving the vision of, "A world that values and conserves present levels of biodiversity."' It is thus incumbent upon us, as sup-porters of this vision, to ascertain what these Âpresent levels of biodiversityÊ actually are (SSC, 2011). As implied in the title of one of the sessions of the UNESCO International Year of Biodiversity Science-Policy Conference, ÂThe biodiversity knowledge base: Taxonomy today and tomorrow for environmental sustainability and human well-beingÊ (Paris, 25–29 January 2010), the Âbasic and indispensibleÊ knowl-edge base for biodiversity is taxonomy. Although, as in other branches of science, any taxonomic scheme is a work in progress, its practitioners are nonetheless scientists who strive to build their taxonomic arrange-ments on the maximum amount of data available. Taxonomists are also well aware that the schemes that they construct will be used by conservation planners, as well as by other biological scientists. For conservation planners, the basic building blocks of taxonomy are species and subspecies. It is essential that we understand what we mean by these categories, so that we are all speaking the same language, and in particular that we are not missing important elements of biodiversity. Both species and subspecies are needlessly in contention among African rhino and elephant conservation biologists. Until some 20 years ago, the so-called Biological Species Concept (BSC) was what taxonomists usually had in mind when they discussed species. Under this concept, species are held to be Âgroups of actually or potentially interbreeding natural populations which are reproductively isolated from other such groupsÊ (Mayr, 1963). Gradually, during the 1990s, there was a widespread falling away from this concept among taxonomists because of the realization that the BSC has several important limitations: a) It does not work with asexual and fossil organisms. b) All allopatric forms are a priori undervalued: if two populations, candidates for treatment as ei-ther separate species or as subspecies of the same species, are totally separated geographically, how could one ever know whether they are reproduc-tively isolated from one another? c) Some species are certainly of hybrid origin (for partial review see Robovsky, 2007), and thus could not exist according to the BSC: Père DavidÊs deer (Meijaard & Groves, 2004), wisent (Verkaar et al., 2004), North American wolves (Canis rufus and Canis lycaon) (Kyle et al., 2006), Arunachal macaque (Chakraborty et al., 2007), bat lineage of Artibeus spp. (Larsen et al., 2010) and quite a number of colobine monkeys (Roos et al., 2011). d) Crucially, we now know that populations of differ-ent species often share lineages of mitochondrial DNA, indicating that there has been a history of interbreeding: the classic case is white tailed and mule deer (Bradley et al., 2003). It is a widely held misunderstanding of the BSC that it stipulates that distinct species cannot interbreed. Actually, according to the BSC, species Âdo not interbreed under natural conditionsÊ: all attempts to test interbreeding under human control (zoos, nature reserves with translocated species from different re-gions) are not able to give a reliable indication of their species status (as argued extensively, for example, by Mayr (1963) in chapters 5 and 6). All this has been well discussed in the literature. Plains and GrevyÊs zebras live sympatrically in some regions and do not interbreed, but when several GrevyÊs zebras were translocated with a skewed sex ratio (in favour of males) into Ol Pejeta Reserve, they interbred with plains zebras and several viable and fertile foals were born (Cordingley et al., 2009). Lodd et al. (2005) described unexpected crossing between European mink and European polecat caused by a lack of mink females. Brindled and white tailed wildebeest interbreed regularly in South African reserves and private game farms (Ackermann et al., 2010). Hy-bridization between black and white rhinos occurred in the Game Breeding Centre of the South African National Zoological Gardens (Robinson et al., 2005).
 
Article
A study of two-choice discrimination learning across 22 pattern pairs was conducted with three African elephants (Loxodonta africana) at the Atlanta/Fulton County Zoo with rates of acquisition and retention observed to be similar to those earlier reported for the Asian species (Elephas maximus). A significant difference was found in trials to criterion for the second half of the stimulus pairs compared with the first, indicating potential development of the learning set; after seven months with no exposure to the pattern problems, one of the subjects correctly selected the appropriate pattern on 16 of 20 pairs, and the other subject demonstrated improvement on a computer joystick task. This study extends learning research to the African species and indicates potential for further cognitive skill development. © 2013, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. All rights reserved.
 
Map of the study areas and input zones.
Map of the contiguous reserves-Omo, Oluwa and Shasha Forest Reserves on a false colour classified ASTER satellite image, showing elephant observations in relation to survey routes and other transects and recce waypoints.
Map of the Okomu Forest Reserve showing the location of the national park and type of elephant observations on a Google Earth derived satellite image.
The Ifon Forest Reserve on a classified LANDSAT 2000 image, showing the locations of signs of elephants.
Distribution range for forest elephants in southwestern Nigeria (Survey 2009).
Article
Elephant numbers in Nigeria have decreased greatly and the rate of this decline cannot be established owing to the insufficiency of available data. The number of forest elephants in particular is especially difficult to determine because of the dense vegetation where they occur, and previous attempts have resulted in the reporting of conflicting estimates. This article describes current efforts to establish the status of forest elephants under ongoing projects for sustainable forest management in some protected areas in southwestern Nigeria. These studies report on the spatial distribution and status of elephants in the study areas and threats facing the remaining population; it also updates the information on the range of elephants in southwestern Nigeria. The lack of knowledge of the population size and status of forest elephants in the country is a major obstacle in determining appropriate conservation needs and measures in the areas where they occur. Ensuring the continued survival of the remaining elephant populations will require up-to-date and accurate information to assist people in management to make strategic decisions for effective conservation.
 
Location of Nazinga Game Ranch in Burkina Faso (inset) and map of the ranch showing the distribution of transects.  
Measures of dispersion of elephant dung-piles during the three seasons.
Total wet season rainfall (June to September) for each year since 1987. The low rainfall of the 2007 wet season preceded the 2008 dry season.  
Article
Elephant wet and dry season distributions were compared at Nazinga Game Ranch in southern Burkina Faso. Dropping counts along line transects provided an index of occupancy at the end of each season: wet 2006, dry 2007 and dry 2008. We expected that the distribution of elephants would differ between the dry and the wet seasons, with elephants concentrating around water sources in the dry season and spreading out across the landscape during the wet season. Elephants were found to be clumped in both wet and dry seasons, although the degree of aggregation was much greater in the dry seasons, especially in the drier year of 2008. Human populations have increased dramatically around Nazinga in the last 15 years, and we speculate that the increasing abundance of crops outside in the wet season may influence the distribution of elephants inside the ranch area.
 
Article
The plant communities of the Pendjari Biosphere Reserve (PBR) are continuously consumed by the elephant population. These plant communities are an important source of food for wildlife in general and for elephants in particular, and they are also a source of bushmeat and other non-woody forest products for the neighbouring populations. Little scientific data exist on the relationship between the plant species that elephants eat and elephants in the PBR. The objectives of the study were to: identify the different zones elephants use, characterize the different plant communities elephants consume, and evaluate elephant damage on the plant communities. The Braun-Blanquet method was used for the phytosociological survey. Matrices of data collected from the survey were processed using STATISTICA software. The dendrogram was obtained using STATISTICA software by Ward's method using Euclidian distances to define plant species. The earth's surface, the vertical and horizontal structures, were the dendrometric parameters calculated. All data were subjected to the Monte Carlo test in order to analyse the correlations between environmental factors and the different phytocenoses elephants use to evaluate their impact on plant communities. The results showed that Porga and Arly zones had high concentrations of elephants while Batia and Konkombri had low concentrations. Out of 61 plants surveyed x 183 species in all the zones identified, the dendrogram identified five groups of plants differentiated according to typical characteristics of plant communities, the level of degradation caused by elephants and the area of the zones containing these groups of plants. The vertical structure observed corresponded mainly with a Gaussian bell-shaped distribution. The horizontal structure was an inverted J and resulted from a natural formation. As regards the type of damage caused by elephants, the presence of felled trees was strongly correlated with areas of high concentration of elephants. Overall, the dendrometric characterization carried out underlines the fact that the vegetation in the PBR is still in a good state of conservation despite the number of wild animals in this West African sub-region.
 
Top-cited authors
Richard F W Barnes
  • University of California, San Diego
Iain Douglas-Hamilton
  • University of Oxford
Emmanuel Danquah
  • Kwame Nkrumah University Of Science and Technology
Lucy Vigne
  • Oxford Brookes University