MSc. Student, University of Florida
Location: Chobe National Park, Botswana
Research: Impact of African Elephants (Loxodonta africana) on Vegetation and Large Mammals in Chobe National Park, Botswana
Species/Topic: African Elephants (Loxodonta africana)
Abstract: Management of the world's largest population of African elephants is surrounded by controversy in Chobe National Park, Botswana. While the variety of wildlife within and around Chobe serves as the basis for a booming tourism industry, generating significant jobs and revenues for local communities, the estimated 200,000 elephants are also a source of human-wildlife conflict, raiding crops and sometimes killing people and livestock. Preliminary data shows substantial habitat modification. There are also concerns that elephants are affecting other large mammals, threatening the area's ecological integrity and sustainability of tourism. This project will quantify long-term habitat and species changes, and will work with park managers to establish stronger habitat and wildlife monitoring systems using vegetation transects and road surveys. This is important to improve management decisions in an area where biodiversity conservation, economic growth, and local livelihood concerns are interdependent.