Elephant numbers in the Sebungwe region of Zimbabwe have declined significantly in the past 13 years and continue to do so. The proposed research by ALERT will address various research questions. In order to address such questions, targeted elephants from different herds will be collared with a satellite/VHF collar so that the movements of the elephants can be monitored constantly, ALERT has collared one elephant in the park, and are looking to expand the project by collaring another 5 elephants
The problem is that the questions posed: the status of the elephant population in the Protected Areas of Chizarira and Chirisa; movements, corridors; and threats are unknown. In Chizarira research has not been conducted for over 30 years and so selected elephants from different herds will be collared with satellite GPS collars with a VHF function built-in. The collared elephant will be tracked regularly both from satellite downloads and on the ground.
Through continuous ground tracking, the population structure of the elephants in Chizarira and Chirisa will be established along with aspects of population ecology (natality, mortality, movements, core areas, seasonal movements, herd interactions). Individuals in a herd with a collared elephant will be photographed (both sides), and identifying marks noted (holes in ears, scars and deep healed wounds). A composite map of movements will be built showing local, external and seasonal movements.
By collaring selected individuals in a herd, and following them we will be able to obtain the demographics and numbers of the elephants in the park, In addition we be able to know where their core areas are and the movement of elephant so that rangers on patrol conducting Anti-poaching activities can better protect the park's elephants. Base-line data of this vulnerable species is crucial for Park Management, it will allow them to study and note any changes in the elephant population.