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Friday, 10 December 2010

Namibia Elephant Population Dynamics Project

Update from the Wilderness Trust

During the past year, aerial photogrammetry of elephant herds was conducted at several localities in Namibia including Etosha, Kaudum, and the Kunene. These areas are characterised by differences in local rainfall, incidence of disease and human impact and can thus be used to adequately describe and compare the response of the elephants' regulating mechanisms to variation in rainfall and disease.

Where possible, post-mortem examinations were also carried out on elephant and cause of death noted. Results from these post-mortems together with photogrammetry-determined demographic data are under analysis. Preliminary data analyses show significant differences in recruitment in the respective areas.

The assessment of the age structure of elephants in Etosha was done by means of fixed-wing and helicopter surveys across the entire Park from west to east. This provided a sample size in excess of 600 elephants, which is representative of approximately 25% of the estimated number of elephants in Etosha. A helicopter survey of Kaudum and the Nyae Nyae Conservancy provided a sample size in excess of 1 500 elephants, which represents approximately 50% of the estimated elephant population in this area. A dedicated helicopter survey of elephant numbers and demography of the ephemeral river systems and adjacent areas of the Kunene Region provided a sample size in excess of 200 elephants.

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