Preliminary survey of forest elephant crossings in Sangha Trinational Park, central Africa

Karen Weinbaum, Zacharie Nzooh, Leonard Usongo, Melinda Laituri

Abstract


Wildlife corridors between protected areas play a critical role in maintaining genetic flow between increasingly isolated populations of many species. The importance of wildlife corridors for African savanna elephants (Loxodonta africana) has been well investigated. However, African forest elephants (Loxodonta africana cyclotis) are difficult to observe in dense tropical vegetation and much less is known about their ecology
than about their savanna counterparts. The Sangha River forms an international border between Cameroon, Central African Republic and Republic of Congo and bisects the biologically rich transboundary Sangha River Trinational Conservation Area. The river serves as a primary route for human transportation and trade in the region, and therefore acts as a partial barrier to elephant movement between protected areas. We used a
reconnaissance survey technique and dung counts combined with a GIS analysis to survey elephant crossings on the Sangha River. At present, radio-collaring elephants in dense forest is both logistically difficult and expensive, and therefore ground surveys provide a cheaper alternative method for identifying major elephant movement corridors. Results will contribute to a more targeted approach to anti-poaching patrol efforts in
the transboundary area.

Keywords


dung counts; reconnaissance survey; spatial autoregressive model; corridor

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