Long Term Monitoring
Over the last 15 years, the Samburu elephant population has become one of the best studied in the world. The 1000 or so elephants that use the reserves are recognized individually by the shape of their ears and tusks. Births, deaths and interactions are closely monitored, making this population a Rosetta Stone for interpreting impacts of poaching on the society.
The STE’s Long Term Monitoring (LTM) field team collects data on a daily basis. The elephants using Samburu and Buffalo Springs reserves (330 km2) are largely habituated to the presence of vehicles, enabling easy observation of behavior. Understanding elephant behavior on an individual basis is pivotal in devising ways and means of securing a future for them and promoting harmonious coexistence with human beings.
Each individual has a marked field code number, which is accompanied by a photo and sketch.
David Daballen, STE’s Head of Field Research who can recognize over 600 elephants on sight says, “Some of these elephants, including bulls and family groups, have large ranges. Sometimes, we don’t see these elephants a long time. They may disappear from our records for months or years. But as soon as such elephants reappear within the LTM area, we are able to update our identification records including any new cuts in the ears or broken tusks.”
During monitoring, whenever a group is sighted, the field team, which includes researchers, assistants and interns scrutinizes the group to record all members who are present. All births, disappearances (deaths), estrus and musth are also recorded. These data are entered on a digital database for later retrieval and analysis of population dynamics, social structure, individual and population dietary preferences, seasonal dispersal, paternity from DNA, and mortality from different causes including illegal killing.
This study, when combined with the separately funded, parallel radio tracking study, allows us to understand how elephants make choices, by studying their movements. This leads to the definition of vital corridors and dispersal areas outside the officially protected areas.
More Projects Under Research
The fate of elephants is in the balance. The record price of ivory has attracted organised crime, rebel militias and even terrorist groups, fuelling a surge of poaching across the continent. Without the outstanding support and generosity of our donors, STE would not be able to continue securing a future for the elephants. We urgently need your support, while there is still time. You can be of vital assistance by donating to either our core funds or to any of our projects.
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How You Can Help
Over the last years our world-leading conservation efforts have been possible thanks to the dedication and generosity of loyal supporters. To join them you can donate in a number of ways:
Elephants are fast disappearing from the wild. Without urgent, international action they could be gone within a generation. The Elephant Crisis Fund provides rapid, catalytic support for the most effective projects designed to stop the killing, thwart traffickers and end the demand for ivory. 100% of all donations reach the field.
Save the Elephants is funded almost entirely by private donations. It is only through the generous support of donors that we are able to continue our important elephant conservation work. We rely entirely on funds, grants and donations from around the world, so thank you for helping us to secure a future for these fascinating creatures.