Seasonal Abundance and Distribution of Elephants in Sioma Ngwezi National Park, southwest Zambia

Michael Chase, Curtice Griffin


We conducted wet (January 2004) and dry (August 2004 and October 2005) season aerial surveys of African elephants (Loxodonta africana) in Sioma Ngwezi National Park (NP) in southwest Zambia. Most elephant herds occurred in the centre and northern portions of the park during the wet season when water was available in seasonal pans. During the two dry season surveys, most herds were scattered across the northern portion of the park with only a few herds in the southwest corner of the park 6.5 km of the Kwando River. The average bull herd size was smaller for the wet season than for the two dry season surveys, while family group sizes did not differ among the three surveys. We estimated 1099 elephants (23 herds) for the 4322 km2 park in the January 2004 wet season survey, 899 elephants (25 herds) in the August 2004 dry season survey and 385 elephants (nine herds) in the October 2005 dry season survey. Based upon earlier reports of elephant numbers, we believe that elephant populations were greatly reduced in the park during the Angolan Civil War in the 1990s, but our survey results suggest that elephants have recolonized the park, and telemetry studies indicate that elephants readily move between the park, southeastern Angola, the West and East Caprivi Strip in Namibia, and northern Botswana. However, several human-associated factors may still affect elephant numbers in the park and community-based conservation programmes are needed to promote the conservation of wildlife habitats, elephants and other wildlife in the region.


aerial surveys, Angola, Caprivi Strip, civil war, community-based conservation programmes, fires, herd size, human settlements, Kwando River, movements, strip transects, telemetry, veterinary fences, Western Zambezi Game Management Area

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