International Journal of
Biodiversity and Conservation

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. Biodivers. Conserv.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-243X
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJBC
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 536

Full Length Research Paper

Home range sizes and space use of African elephants (Loxodonta africana) in the Southern Kenya and Northern Tanzania borderland landscape

Shadrack Ngene
  • Shadrack Ngene
  • Kenya Wildlife Service, Biodiversity Research and Monitoring Division, P.O. Box 40241-00100, Nairobi, Kenya.
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Moses Makonjio Okello
  • Moses Makonjio Okello
  • School for Field Studies, Centre for Wildlife Management Studies, P.O. Box 27743, Nairobi, Kenya.
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Joseph Mukeka
  • Joseph Mukeka
  • Kenya Wildlife Service, Biodiversity Research and Monitoring Division, P.O. Box 40241-00100, Nairobi, Kenya.
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Shadrack Muya
  • Shadrack Muya
  • Department of Zoology, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, P.O. Box 62000-00200, Nairobi, Kenya.
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Steve Njumbi
  • Steve Njumbi
  • International Fund for Animal Welfare, East African Regional Office, P.O. Box 25499-00603, Nairobi, Kenya.
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James Isiche
  • James Isiche
  • International Fund for Animal Welfare, East African Regional Office, P.O. Box 25499-00603, Nairobi, Kenya.
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  •  Received: 17 August 2016
  •  Accepted: 26 October 2016
  •  Published: 31 January 2017

Abstract

The African elephant (Loxodonta africana) require vast areas to meet their survival needs such as food, mates, water, resting sites, and look up positions; the area referred to as home range. We collared 9 bull and 3 female elephants using satellite-linked Geographic Positioning System (GPS) collars in February 2013. Their movements were monitored up to April 2016 in the wider Amboseli landscape. We estimated their home ranges using 100% minimum convex polygon (MCP) and 95% Fixed Kernel Density Estimator (KDE) methods. A total of 48,852 GPS points were used representing 77% of the expected GPS points. This study revealed that bulls had a larger total home range size (MCP = 32,110 km²; KDE = 3,170 km² compared to females (MCP = 10,515 km²; KDE = 3,070 km²). The 95% confidence interval of the monthly range (95% KDE) for all elephants was 6,130 to 7,025 km² with the minimum and maximum range being 5,200 and 7,790 km² respectively. Females had smaller home ranges during the dry and wet season (MCP: dry = 2,974 km²; wet = 1,828 km²; KDE: dry = 2,810 km²; wet = 3,070 km²) than bulls (MCP: dry = 3,312 km²; wet = 13,288 km²; KDE: dry = 2,960 km²; wet = 3,720 km²). The variations of the elephant home range could have been influenced by an interaction of factors including rainfall, human disturbances and land use (e.g., farms, settlements, road network, and fences), water availability, bush cover, food availability, and tracking period. The most important areas that had key habitats for elephants were scattered throughout the Kenya/Tanzania borderland. The Amboseli-Tsavo-Magadi-Natron-West Kilimanjaro elephant population roams within specific areas of the landscape. Trans-boundary efforts should be enhanced to ensure sound management of the elephant-habitat-people interface for continued well-being of the elephant population.

 

Key words: Amboseli ecosystem, elephant, home range, minimum convex polygon, Kenya/Tanzania borderland, kernel density estimator.