The influence of hunting activity on African elephant (Loxodonta africana) movements

Nobrega, Catherine Elizabeth Pinho
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African elephants (Loxodonta africana) are still being poached and hunted and this could potentially affect their movement. As a keystone species, crucial to maintaining ecosystem function and therefore food webs, it is important to understand the effects hunting may have on their movements. This study was undertaken in the Associated Private Nature Reserves adjacent to the Kruger National Park, where elephants are hunted. I looked at changes in daily displacement distance and distance from hunting and natural mortality events to determine if elephants were affected by hunting events, up to what distance, and to determine whether elephants reacted in the same way to hunting and natural mortality events. I found that elephants are only affected by hunting events when within 1 km of the event, which is consistent with the literature. When considering natural mortality events, they actually diverted movements towards the event location, which is also consistent with literature. These results, however, are based on a very small sample size. In addition, the time of day of the events was not recorded by the wardens of the reserve, and this provided a further limitation for the data analysis and interpretation.
A research report submitted to the Faculty of Science, University of the Witwatersrand, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Science (Environmental Sciences). September 2015.
Associated Private Nature Reserves., Kruger National Park., Loxodonta Africana., Movement behaviour., Natural mortality., Trophy hunting.