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African Elephant Migrations

>> Tuesday, December 9, 2008

African Elephant
Originally uploaded by Lukas Vermeer
In an interesting article I found while stumbling around PLoS, I learned that elephants (Loxodonta africana) have very distinct migratory patterns. The study was conducted over five years and used GPS satellite tracking to follow a cow and her daily movements.

The study, by Holland, Thomas and Minot, followed the elephant from her summer home in Kruger National Park (KNP)and Sabi Sands Game Reserve (SSR) in South Africa. In the study, they found that the elephant (and therefore the herd) moved at speeds that corresponded with the temperature. Also, the elephants had the tendency to use the the exact geographic areas as home bases. The elephants actually migrated seasonally. The summer range for the herd was actually four times larger than their winter stomping grounds but that did not deter them. The use of a larger area in the summer in KNP was for better grazing. The area in winter, SSR, had good grazing and water in a smaller area.

The animals also showed distinct wildlife corridors and remained close to water and did not use "random" movements or trails. This was the first study of its kind done for this long. Knowing where these corridors are will help better protect these amazing creatures during their migrations.

You can find the original article here.

Photo licensed under Creative Commons.

African Elephant
Originally uploaded by Lukas Vermeer


Wendy December 9, 2008 at 9:30 PM  

Not only are elephants intelligent animals, but they are also spiritual. I remember watching elephants in an Imax theatre a few years ago. They were feeling with their trunks, the bones of a dead elephant. Not just a cursory sniff like a dog might do, but slowly, lovingly, as if they were "reading" the bones of their departed ancestor.
There were other examples too, but this one stayed with me.
I love elephants. They seem almost human - and it's the matriarch who leads the herd!

Mimi December 9, 2008 at 9:32 PM  

@ Wendy... they are amazing. They even bury their dead. Pretty remarkable stuff. I may have to do a short animal fact post on them soon. I was already finding all sorts of cool things online. Spiritual. That is a great way of describing them!

Cheryl December 10, 2008 at 3:22 PM  

I adore the elephant....amazing creatures....
I saw a group when we were on safari in South Africa ten years ago......we were only about five metres from them.....one of the most amazing experiences of my life.....never forget it....

I like the post....they need all the protection they can get........

Mimi December 12, 2008 at 8:42 AM  

@ Cheryl... You are so lucky to have seen them in the wild. I love elephants as well and I am glad this study was done.

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