Comparison of two dung count methods for estimating elephant numbers at Kakum Conservation Area in Southern Ghana

Yaw Boafo, Mildred Manford, Richard F.W. Barnes, Emmanuel M. Hema, Emmanuel Danquah, Nandjui Awo, Umaru-Farouk Dubiure


The efficiency of meandering transects—in terms of accuracy, precision and effort required for estimating elephant abundance—was evaluated in the Kakum Conservation Area in Ghana. Four consecutive elephant dung surveys were carried out between February 2000 and February 2002 using meandering transects. The resulting dung density estimates were adjusted by applying a correction factor calculated from matched pairs of meandering transects and standard line transects. The meandering transects required less effort and took 40% less time than line transects and were preferred by the park’s staff, but these gains must be balanced against the loss in precision. Elephant densities were estimated from the dung densities with a rainfall model. Empirical and analytical methods were compared for estimating the precision of the elephant estimate. The analytical method returned a more precise estimate for the merged estimate, which was 161 elephants (95% CI from 104 to 249). A genetic survey of the same population by Eggert et al. (2003) using the accumulation method gave a similar estimate of 170 elephants (95% CI from 96 to 270).


forest, elephants, dung count, precision

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