n African Zoology - Ranging behaviour of elephants within a small, fenced area in Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa

Volume 38, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1562-7020
  • E-ISSN: 2224-073X
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The elephant population (&lt;I&gt;n&lt;/I&gt; = 324, December 2000) in Addo Elephant National Park (AENP), South Africa, is restricted to an area (103 km<sup>2</sup>) considerably smaller than most elephant ranges. The Addo elephants' ranging behaviour was studied in order to determine whether natural patterns of male and female ranging behaviour can be maintained within a confined area. Radio-tracking was used to facilitate measurements of hourly distances travelled, larger scale directional movements, home range sizes, centres of activity and associations. Female home ranges overlap, and interactions between family groups are frequently observed. Females and non-musth males travel similar distances and speeds on an hourly basis, but female core range sizes are larger, presumably because bigger areas are needed to satisfy the nutritional requirements of their young. Contrary to expectations, Addo males do not travel further and faster on an hourly basis when they are in musth in comparison to when they are not in musth. However, the movement of males in musth is more directional, so that they cover a greater area of the park. Males associate more frequently with females when in musth than when non-musth. Unlike in other populations, non-musth 'male retirement areas' in AENP are not exclusive, as there is spatial and temporal overlap with female ranges, and hence with the ranges of males in musth. It is suggested that the resulting increased frequency of contact between musth and non-musth males may result in elevated mate competition, and this could contribute to the high levels of aggression observed between Addo bulls.

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