Title

Elephants caught in the middle: impacts of war, fences and people on elephant distribution and abundance in the Caprivi Strip, Namibia

Publication Date

2009

Journal or Book Title

AFRICAN JOURNAL OF ECOLOGY

Abstract

We conducted wet [26 March–4 April 2003 (Apr03)] and dry [1–8 November 2005 (Nov05)] season aerial surveys of African elephants (Loxodonta africana Blumenbach) in the Caprivi Strip, Namibia to provide an updated status report on elephant numbers and distribution and assist with a historical analysis of elephant distribution and abundance in the Caprivi Strip. During the wet season when water was available in seasonal pans, elephants were widely distributed throughout the survey area. In contrast, during the dry season, a majority of elephant herds occurred within 30 km of the perennial Kwando, Linyanti and Okavango rivers and few herds occurred within the West Caprivi Game Reserve where water in the seasonal pans was limited. We estimated 5318 elephants for the 7731-km2 survey area (0.71 elephants km−2) for the Apr03 wet season survey and 6474 elephants for the 8597-km2 survey area (0.75 elephants km−2) for the Nov05 dry season survey. Based on our aerial surveys and reports of elephant numbers and distribution from historical aerial surveys and telemetry studies, civil war, veterinary fences and human activities appear to have effected changes in African elephant abundance, distribution and movements in the Caprivi Strip, Namibia since 1988 when the first comprehensive aerial surveys were conducted.

DOI

10.1111/j.1365-2028.2008.01017.x

Volume

47

Issue

2

Pages

223-233

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