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Media Release: Elephant Research Features at Skukuza Meeting

Date: 28th April 2008

Elephant researchers from all over the world presented their latest findings at the SANParks 6th Annual Science Network meeting in Skukuza on Tuesday 22 April 2008. Most of them are working in the Kruger National Park, but results from neighbouring private reserves, Northern Botswana and KwaZulu-Natal offered interesting comparisons and much food for thought for the more than 200 scientists at the meeting.

Elephant researchers from all over the world presented their latest findings at the SANParks 6th Annual Science Network meeting in Skukuza on Tuesday 22 April 2008. Most of them are working in the Kruger National Park, but results from neighbouring private reserves, Northern Botswana and KwaZulu-Natal offered interesting comparisons and much food for thought for the more than 200 scientists at the meeting.

Over and above the known research discussions about factors affecting elephant management new and innovative research was also presented at the workshop and some of the highlights are as follows:

  • Some researchers are working on mathematical models to help understand the relationships between elephants and their environment. They want to predict the movements of these animals during wet and dry seasons, and model the differences in the movement patterns of elephant cows and bulls. The research has confirmed that the availability of water, along with the abundance of grasses and trees, largely determines where elephants are found and that elephants don’t move around randomly, but revisit “known patches”.
  • Delegates were also introduced to a new model (similar to a computer simulation game) that can be used to explore and predict elephant movements through landscapes, depending on factors such as fire, water and food. This model can be used when considering different options for elephant management, as well as in the training of ecosystems managers.
  • The presentations come in the backdrop of the announcement by the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk, of the Norms and Standards for the Management of Elephants in South Africa. The Minister received advice from a group of 63 scientists who co-authored the “Scientific Assessment of Elephant Management” in South Africa as their contribution through the elephant Scientific Round Table which was headed by Dr Bob Scholes of the CSIR. The full assessment is available at www.elephantassessment.co.za.

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Issued by:
South African National Parks
Enquiries:
wanda mkutshulwa, Head of Communications, South African National Parks, Tel: 0124265201 / 0829082692.

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