Special Session: Managing elephant in small to medium-sized areas

This session will allow for practitioners and scientists to present on challenges and advances on the monitoring and management of elephant in small to medium-sized fenced systems with multiple and often conflicting objectives.

South Africa in particular faces specific challenges when it comes to the management of elephants. Outside of this country, most elephant populations presently occur in extensive unfenced wildlife systems or protected areas. In these areas, the main threats to their persistence is poaching, habitat loss and transformation, and human-elephant conflict. Currently more than 72% of the properties in South Africa that have elephants, have fewer than 75 elephants. Most of these subpopulations occur on small and medium-sized fenced properties that are highly managed to prevent habitat degradation and breakouts. With the accelerated transformation of the natural landscape in Africa, and the concomitant increase in human-elephant conflict, the keeping of elephant on small to medium-sized wildlife systems is likely to become more prevalent throughout the continent. 

During 2007, the South African government convened a "Science Round Table" that advised on managing the impact of elephants on vegetation and other attributes at a landscape level, and advised against a simplistic management of populations based on size. In the Round Table, it was argued that the impacts of elephants were dependent primarily on availability of forage, water and shade, rather than the number of elephants on the property. The South African government published the Norms and Standards for Elephant Management in South Africa during 2008 to accommodate these recommendations and other aspects of elephant keeping and management. Since that time, and the subsequent application of the National Norms and Standards for the Management of Elephants, several new challenges have become prevalent as a result of increasing elephant populations on small to medium-sized reserves. Likewise, the country has gained valuable insights into the challenges and uncertainties that have arisen from the application of the Norms and Standards. Further, several advances have been made in managing the impacts of elephant, as well as population control methods to halt or slow the breeding rates of small elephant populations. These insights and advances in elephant management need to be incorporated into the Norms and Standards and management guidelines.

This session will allow for practitioners and scientists to present on challenges and advances on the monitoring and management of elephant in small to medium-sized fenced systems with multiple and often conflicting objectives. Proposed changes to the Norms and Standards for the management of elephant in South Africa, and the process for development of a National Elephant Strategy (to provide for a high-level vision and strategic objectives for the management and long term conservation of elephants in South Africa while contributing to the well-being of people), will be discussed in the context of conserving, managing and enhancing the economic contribution of elephants in South Africa.

Open session – researchers and practitioners are encouraged to submit relevant presentations for inclusion in this session. Participation in the session during the Symposium is open to all. Submissions that cannot be incorporated into the session by the convener will be considered for general sessions in the remainder of the programme.

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ELEPHANTS |

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