Elephant distribution around a volcanic shield dominated by a mosaic of forest and savanna (Marsabit, Kenya)

S.M. Ngene, A.K. Skidmore, H. Gils, I. Douglas-Hamilton, P. Omondi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We investigated the factors that influenced the distribution of the African elephant around a volcanic shield dominated by a mosaic of forest and savanna in northern Kenya. Data on elephant distribution were acquired from four female and five bull elephants, collared with satellite-linked geographical positioning system collars. Based on the eigenvalues (variances) of the correlation matrix, the six factors that contributed significantly to high total variances were distance from drinking water (24%), elevation (15%), shrubland (10%), forest (9%), distance from settlements (8%) and distance from minor roads (7%), contributing to 73% in the observed variation of the elephant distribution. The elephants were found at high forested elevations during the dry season but they moved to the lowlands characterized by shrubland during the wet season. Elevation acts as a proxy for the vegetation structure. The presence of elephants near permanent water points (13%) and seasonal rivers (11%) during the dry and wet seasons, respectively, demonstrates that water is the most important determinant of their distribution throughout the year. We conclude that the distribution of elephants in Marsabit Protected Area and its adjacent areas is influenced mainly by drinking water and vegetation structure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)234-245
JournalAfrican Journal of Ecology
Volume47
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Keywords

  • northwestern namibia
  • loxodonta-africana
  • mineral-nutrition
  • northern kenya
  • large mammals
  • movements
  • telemetry
  • region

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