Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Key To Saving African Elephants

Date:
May 27, 1999
Source:
Society For Conservation Biology
Summary:
Habitat loss is a bigger threat to African elephants than the ivory trade and the conventional wisdom is that declines in elephant populations mirror increases in human populations. But this is not true--rather, elephants persist up to a certain point and then suddenly disappear, say Richard Hoare and Johan Du Toit of the University of Zimbabwe in Harare, Zimbabwe, in the June issue of Conservation Biology.

Habitat loss is a bigger threat to African elephants than the ivory trade and the conventional wisdom is that declines in elephant populations mirror increases in human populations. But this is not true--rather, elephants persist up to a certain point and then suddenly disappear, say Richard Hoare and Johan Du Toit of the University of Zimbabwe in Harare, Zimbabwe, in the June issue of Conservation Biology.

"Wild elephant populations may initially show considerable tolerance to expanding human settlement but then precipitously decline and fail to recover," says Hoare. Figuring out how African elephants can coexist with people in savannas is essential because 80% of their range is outside protected areas.

Hoare and Du Toit studied how human settlement affects elephants in the nearly 6,000-square mile Sebungwe region of northwestern Zimbabwe. About 40% of the land is protected and the rest is divided into three contiguous districts where people have been clearing the elephant'sdeciduous hardwood habitat for subsistence agriculture since the mid-1950s. A single elephant population of nearly 12,000 occupies the three districts, and conversion to agriculture in the districts varies from limited to widespread.

The researchers found that the relationship between human and elephant populations is more complex than had been previously thought. Their results show that the number of elephants living in the study area is not affected by the number of people living there until the human population reaches about 28 people per square mile. After this threshold, elephants effectively disappear. The sharpness of this decline suggests that elephants can coexist with people up to a certain point but once that threshold is reached they go elsewhere, presumably to less disturbed areas.

"The 'threshold hypothesis' will let land planners distinguish areas where elephants can be conserved from those where they cannot," says Hoare. The threshold for elephant disappearance can be measured either by the density of people or by the amount of land cleared. While the threshold will vary with the ecosystem, in this study the threshold was reached when about half the elephant habitat was lost and the rest fragmented.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society For Conservation Biology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Society For Conservation Biology. "New Key To Saving African Elephants." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 May 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/05/990527042617.htm>.
Society For Conservation Biology. (1999, May 27). New Key To Saving African Elephants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/05/990527042617.htm
Society For Conservation Biology. "New Key To Saving African Elephants." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/05/990527042617.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins