Sahelian Elephant Research and Conservation ProjectEPA Grant Number: U915426
Title: Sahelian Elephant Research and Conservation Project
Investigators: Orlando, Anne M.
Institution: University of California - Davis
EPA Project Officer: Michaud, Jayne
Project Period: January 1, 1998 through January 1, 2001
Project Amount: $79,375
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1998) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Fellowship - Ecology and Ecosystems
The objective of this research project is to facilitate long-term conservation of the elephants of the African Sahel (Loxodonta africana) by building a knowledge base of patterns and determinants of habitat use, survival strategy, stressors on the population, and resource constraints.
I will use a multiscale approach to record, characterize, and identify the determinants of elephant habitat use and movements at the landscape, population, and individual levels. Four bull and four cow elephants will be immobilized and fitted with global positioning system (GPS) radio-tracking collars, which record and store elephant locations and activity data every 3 hours and will be downloaded aerially each month. These data will be added to an integrated ArcView Geographic Information Systems database for the study region, which contains information on water sources, vegetation, salt and mineral deposits, rainfall, soils, human and livestock densities, settlement, and migration routes. Habitat-use patterns, home-range sizes, population- and individual-distributional patterns, and other data will be analyzed. This landscape-level analysis will be complemented with about 1 year of ground-based observation to understand differential resource use, stresses, requirements, and decision making by individual elephants. I will follow and sample the behavior of collard elephants and their associated groups. I will record time budgets and species and types of vegetation eaten by calves, juveniles, adult bulls, and lactating and nonlactating cow elephants. The elephants' ecological and decision-making strategies will be compared with those of sympatric transhuman and nomadic human societies, using an energy-based decision-making model to provide starting points for integrated land-use planning. I will work closely with local inhabitants, government officials, and development agents to produce utile research products and feasible conservation recommendations.