We are very grateful that current Covid19 government guidelines and restrictions allow us access to the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park and can continue with our observational work on the elephant population. The majority of which are still male, although we are seeing more female herd activity in the area particularly through our camera trap survey. Of course, the pandemic has not affected the social network of the elephants, and they have been free to meet up and interact and maybe they have enjoyed the quiet of fewer visitors to their area! It will be interesting to see if after the quiet their behaviour changed and in the initial period that we and tourist return they are more skittish in their behaviour as they get used to hearing and seeing us again in their area. We hope that recommendations where you are allowing you to see more of your friends and family.
Another aspect we will have to take into consideration for our study is the weather when times are tough and food resources scare versus a time of abundance. Thanks to good rains following years of drought the elephants are enjoying a time of plenty and are spread wide and far and so they are harder for us to track down and find as they are not being drawn to the river for water. They are however being drawn to the community lands, as it is harvest season and so we are responded to farmers calls to let us know they have been raided and getting some sightings of elephants on the community side to contribute to our study.
Hunting has resumed but with restrictions on travel for many countries, it is not clear how many hunts will take place this year. We now have good baseline data for comparison and will of course continue with our weekly research drives as we head out of summer into what is predicted to be a cold winter.
We look forward to updating you again soon. Thanks so much for your continued support of our work and until next time, stay safe.
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