Movement patterns of African Elephants (Loxodonta africana) in a Semi-arid Savanna suggest that they have information on the location of dispersed water sources

Yussuf A. Wato, Herbert H.T. Prins*, Ignas M.A. Heitkönig, Geoffrey M. Wahungu, Shadrack M. Ngene, Steve Njumbi, Frank van Langevelde

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Water is a scarce resource in semi-arid savannas where over half of the African elephants (Loxodonta africana) populations occur and may therefore influence their movement pattern. A random search is expected for an animal with no information on the location of the target resource, else, a direction-oriented walk is expected. We hypothesized that elephants movement patterns show a stronger directional orientation toward water sources in the dry season compared to the wet season. We investigated the movement paths of four male and four female elephants with hourly GPS fixes in Tsavo National Park, Kenya in 2012-2013. Consistent with our predictions, the movement paths of elephants had longer step lengths, longer squared net displacements, and were directed toward water sources in the dry season as compared to the wet season. We argue that African elephants know the location of dispersed water resources, enabling them to survive with scarce resources in dry savannas. These results can be used in conservation and management of wildlife, through for instance, protection of preferred water sources.

Original languageEnglish
Article number167
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and Evolution
Volume6
Issue numberOCT
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2018

Keywords

  • Conservation
  • Directionality
  • Movement
  • Savanna
  • Step length
  • Tsavo
  • Wildlife

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