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Zimbabwe elephants fitted with GPS collars

by Staff reporter
16 Apr 2024 at 07:48hrs | Views
ELEPHANTS in Hwange National Park are being fitted with Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking collars by ZimParks through its strategic partner, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), so that nearby villagers can be warned when the jumbos approach and ZimParks can keep track of its large herd.

ZimParks principal ecologist Ms Daphine Madlamoto said the installation of trackers would make it easier for them to locate the elephants and reduce cases of human-wildlife conflict as ZimParks would be able to alert villagers before they reach their communities.

"We want to monitor how they (elephants) are moving, how they are using the landscape, where these elephants are going and also what resources they are using. We also want to monitor human-elephant interaction," she said.

"In this region, our elephant population has increased, the park has the largest jumbo population and the herds tend to move outside the protected area boundaries. Since this park relies on artificial water sources, sometimes the elephants move outside the park in search of water and also in search of forage.

"Due to the increase in our elephant numbers, we are also recording a high number of wildlife and human interactions. Therefore, this project becomes more significant given the construction of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam."

Ms Madlamoto said since the park relies on artificial water pumping, the construction of Gwayi-Shangani Dam could attract elephants as they are water dependent.

"The Gwayi-Shangani Dam might attract wildlife, resulting in more elephants moving outside the protected area boundary in search of water, thereby increasing the interactions with humans ."

IFAW programme manager for landscape conservation Dr Henry Ndaimani said they wanted to check where the elephants were going, especially in landscapes that were located outside of the park.

This is to ensure that ZimParks and IFAW enhance their knowledge on how the elephants use that part of the landscape to guide decision-making in terms of law enforcement, human-wildlife conflict management and other related community engagement work.

"The landscape which is especially prone to conflict is to the northeast of Hwange National Park. Tracking elephants is becoming very important now that we are going to be completing the Gwayi-Shangani Dam.

"This is a major water body which is going to attract a lot of elephant movement and we want to know how that movement is going to affect the general management of the elephants. We know elephants venture outside protected areas and also occasionally raid crops. So that one is a very important discussion because once we check these animals we know how they are actually using cropped landscapes, especially in terms of time," Dr Ndaimani said.

Source - The Herald
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