A total of 8 elephants have so far been collared in the combined unfenced Chizarira National Park and Chirisa Safari Area. This Protected Area in the north of Zimbabwe straddling the Zambezi Valley (part of the downfaulted Rift Valley system) is 3,623km2 in extent and comprises untouched bush for a variety of wildlife including 4 of the Big 5 (elephants, lions, leopards and buffalo).
Our project on elephants aims at obtaining population characteristics and also to monitor their movements. The Protected Area (PA) is surrounded by peasant farming communities on the Valley floor and elephants from the PA do go down into the Valley and raid crops There has been a number of deaths of people trying to protect their meagre crops.
By having one elephant in a herd collared we can advise the community of a potential elephant incursion so that they can take precautions to protect the crops such as fires, dogs, noise, vuvuzelas, and other non-lethal methods.
An important part of the project is to identify traditional paths (corridors) that elephants have used for hundreds of years between what are now designated PA`s. Amazingly the knowledge of these corridors has been passed down by the matriarchs so that elephant today still try and use the same routes. Sadly with a growing human population, these paths are frequently blocked by settlements and crops resulting in conflicts.
Once a wildlife corridor is positively identified through monitoring movements of collared elephants, we can lobby to have the corridors opened. This is a difficult process but as the PA we are working in is part of the greater KAZA TFCA which encompasses 5 countries covering 519,912km2, and we are all looking at re-establishing traditional corridors for wildlife, there is a greater chance of success. Our movement data feeds into the data-base created by the 5 countries so that eventually we can lobby with a united voice.
By having open corridors between Protected Areas, elephants and other wildlife species can resume their traditional migratory routes and have access to a greater area in which to roam.