Article

Ecology of elephant population (Loxodonta africana) in the Cynegetic Zone of Djona (Benin)

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Abstract

Elephant populations in the Djona hunting zone and its bordering villages were studied in Benin. This article discusses the preliminary results in a series of studies in this hunting zone. After twelve months of ecological and demographic study, we observed and identified three types of social structure in the elephant populations: solitary, pairs and groups (Varying between three and eleven members). 94 elephants were censused. Elephant density Varied by season. In the rainy season more area was occupied by the elephants and the density was 0,03 individuals/km(2) whereas during the dry season large groups were formed and savannas in the Djona hunting zone were only exploited giving a density of 0,07 individuals/km(2). The movement of elephants in this study zone is influenced to a large extent by water and food availability. Farms were visited by elephants to find shea butter fruits (Vitellaria paradoxa) and Parkia biglobosa. These two tree species are always saved by farmers when they clear the land. Elephants can be classified into four age groups, namely young elephants, immature elephants, subadults and adults. Data showed that adults represented 34% of the population, followed by subadults (32%), immature (20%) and young (14%). The dietary analysis based on the fruits eaten was analysed through the dungs. Many tree species were eaten but in varying quantities. This dietary analysis revealed that some fruit species were most eaten by elephants. The percentage of time spent by elephants varied by season: in the dry season they spent 25% of the day eating, 13% resting, 29% playing and 33% drinking and bathing; during the rainy season they spent 33% of the day eating, 21% resting, 8% playing and 38% drinking and bathing. Cohabitation between local people and wildlife has not provoked any great problems and this justifies the participation of local people in the development of ecotourism at the elephant site in the Djona Hunting Zone.

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... En s'alimentant, les éléphants impactent sur la végétation. A cet effet, dans leurs parcours, les éléphants d'Afrique jouent un rôle très important dans la dispersion des semences (Tèhou et Sinsin, 2000). Ils contribuent dans une large mesure à assurer la dispersion spatiale et la régénération naturelle des arbres fruitiers par zoochorie quand leur densité est inférieure à la capacité de charge du milieu (Tèhou et Sinsin, 2000). ...
... A cet effet, dans leurs parcours, les éléphants d'Afrique jouent un rôle très important dans la dispersion des semences (Tèhou et Sinsin, 2000). Ils contribuent dans une large mesure à assurer la dispersion spatiale et la régénération naturelle des arbres fruitiers par zoochorie quand leur densité est inférieure à la capacité de charge du milieu (Tèhou et Sinsin, 2000). De nombreuses espèces végétales consommées par les éléphants dépendent pour leur survie de ce type de dispersion de graines. ...
... In addition, the effect of illegal hunting was reflected in the greater abundance of elephants closer to guard posts in all seasons (Table 2). Elephants were dispersed across the ranch in the wet season when water was abundant in scattered ephemeral pools and streams that flow for a few days after heavy rain (Jachmann, 1988;Sukumar, 1989;Tehou & Sinsin, 2000). On the other hand, in the dry season, as expected, they were more likely to be clumped around permanent water sources resulting in the strong spatial autocorrelation in both dry seasons. ...
... R. Br. ex G. Don (Mimosaceae) that are common on farms outside the ranch (Damiba & Ables, 1993). A similar phenomenon was reported by Tehou & Sinsin (2000). While both tree species are found inside the ranch, their densities are lower than outside, and monkeys take their fruits before they ripen. ...
... In addition, the effect of illegal hunting was reflected in the greater abundance of elephants closer to guard posts in all seasons (Table 2). Elephants were dispersed across the ranch in the wet season when water was abundant in scattered ephemeral pools and streams that flow for a few days after heavy rain (Jachmann, 1988;Sukumar, 1989;Tehou & Sinsin, 2000). On the other hand, in the dry season, as expected, they were more likely to be clumped around permanent water sources resulting in the strong spatial autocorrelation in both dry seasons. ...
... R. Br. ex G. Don (Mimosaceae) that are common on farms outside the ranch (Damiba & Ables, 1993). A similar phenomenon was reported by Tehou & Sinsin (2000). While both tree species are found inside the ranch, their densities are lower than outside, and monkeys take their fruits before they ripen. ...
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... Within Asia, countries like India [7], Nepal [8], Sumatra [9], and Malaysia [10] have been affected by this problem. Other areas where this problem persists include African countries like Ghana [11,12], Kenya [13], Mozambique [14], Rwanda [15], Benin [16], and Zimbabwe [17]. ...
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... Ecotourism centered on wildlife viewing has become extremely popular over the past decade and is viewed as an important conservation tool (Kruger 2005). By providing incentives for the preservation of wildlife and their habitat, ecotourism has aided in protecting snow leopards (Uncia uncia;Hussain 2000), Indo-pacific humpback dolphins, (Sousa chinensis; Karczmarski 2000), sea turtles (Caretta caretta, Natator depressus, Chelonia mydas; Wilson and Tisdell 2001), African elephants (Loxodonta africana; Tehou and Sinsin 2000), and tropical primates (Ruyooka et al. 2000). However, a recent multivariate analysis of the sustainability of nature-based tourism from 251 case studies found that 20-36% of tourism programs were unsustainable due to negative effects on flagship species caused by too many tourists without adequate control and management (Kruger 2005). ...
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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.
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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. Résumé Les formations végétales de la Réserve de Biosphère de la Pendjari (RBP) sont soumises à une utilisation permanente par la population des éléphants. Ces formations représentent une importante source d’alimentation pour la faune en général et en particulier pour les éléphants mais aussi une source d’approvisionnement en viande de gibier et autres produits forestiers non ligneux pour les populations riveraines. Peu de données scientifiques existent sur les relations entre les formations végétales exploitées par les éléphants et les éléphants dans la RBP. Les objectifs de l’étude sont les suivants: identifier les différentes zones exploitées par les éléphants ; caractériser les différentes formations végétales exploitées par les éléphants ; et évaluer les dégâts occasionnés par les éléphants sur ces formations. La méthode de Braun-Blanquet a été utilisée pour les relevés phytosociologiques. Les matrices des données collectées à partir des relevés ont été traitées avec le logiciel STATISTICA. Le dendrogramme a été obtenu à l’aide du logiciel STATISTICA par la méthode de Ward sur la base des distances euclidiennes pour définir les groupements végétaux. La surface terrière, la structure verticale et la structure horizontale ont été les paramètres dendrométriques calculés. L’ensemble des données a été soumis au test de Monté Carlo pour analyser les corrélations entre les facteurs environnementaux et les différentes phytocénoses exploitées par les éléphants dans le but d’évaluer l’impact des éléphants sur les formations végétales. Les résultats ont montré que les zones de Porga et d’Arly étaient des zones de forte concentration en éléphants, tandis que celles de Batia et Konkombri étaient des zones de faible concentration en éléphants. Sur les 61 relevés x 183 espèces effectués sur l’ensemble des zones identifiées, le dendrogramme a fait ressortir 5 groupements végétaux discriminés suivants les facteurs type de formations végétales, niveau de dégradation due à la densité en éléphants et la superficie des zones abritant ces groupements. La structure verticale observée était une distribution s’ajustant dans l’ensemble à une distribution en cloche de Gauss. La structure horizontale était en J renversé et traduisant une formation naturelle. Selon la typologie des dégâts occasionnés par les éléphants, la présence des chablis étaient fortement corrélés avec les zones de forte concentration en éléphants. En somme, la caractérisation dendrométrique faite souligne que la végétation de la RBP demeure en bon état de conservation malgré son caractère giboyeux dans la sous-région de l’Afrique de l’ouest.
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The Kalamaloue National Park was sampled by means of line transects to assess damage to trees caused by elephants in the dry season. A total of 2602 trees was examined of which 53 % were damaged (less than three-quarters browsed) and 44 % were dead (three-quarters browsed or more). Most mature trees were dead (77 %). Ninety-five per cent of trees in the regeneration class were damaged. Of all trees browsed the majority (57 %) come from the recruitment class. It is concluded that elephant damage to vegetation is serious enough to warrant management intervention.