Dedicated to creating a peaceful future for elephants in Southern Tanzania, and beyond

Monitoring & Research

Elephant Monitoring Program in Ruaha National Park

The vast Ruaha-Rungwa ecosystem (~50,000 km2) holds an estimated 15,000 elephants (2015 census), down from ~35,000 iM2E1L0-17R350B300n 2009, but still one of the largest remaining populations in East Africa.  Focused initially in Ruaha National Park, our main activities are currently as follows:

  • Assessing effects of poaching on elephant demography and behaviour
  • Developing an elephant ID database for Ruaha NP for long term monitoring and future studies
  • Camera-trapping and vehicle transects to examine elephant distribution and movements by season and in relation to poaching events


Human-Elephant Interactions in Udzungwa-Selous and Ruaha-Rungwa????

In the Udzungwa Mountains and Selous ecosystems, where human-elephant coexistence is a serious challenge (see our Coexistence page for more details), we study the dynamics of elephant crop-use and the effectiveness of mitigation methods. Specifically, we are:

  •  Studying demography and behaviour of crop-consuming elephants using camera-traps situated on the paths leading from the forest into the farms
  • Monitoring crop losses to understand feeding preferences and spatial dynamics of elephant crop-use
  • Assessing the effectiveness of chilli-oil and beehive fences in deterring elephants from the farms

STEP has also conducted two large-scale surveys on human-elephant interactions in Ruaha and Rungwa.


Effects of Poaching in Selous Game Reservemeasure

In the Selous Game Reserve, we have partnered with the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute to understand the effects of the recent catastrophic poaching on this critical elephant population, via:

  • Demographic survey to understand changes in the elephant population structure and assess potential long-term effects
  • Examining “demography of the dead” through skull and tusk measurements of poached animals
  • Piloting novel method of demographic assessment using elephant photos from aerial censuses