*Poaching and human encroachment reverse recovery of African savannah
elephants in south-east Angola despite 14 years of peaceScott
Schlossberg, Michael J. Chase, Curtice R. Griffin*
*PLOS One*
*March 14, 2018*


With populations of African savannah elephants (Loxodonta africana)
declining across the continent, assessing the status of individual elephant
populations is important for conservation. Angola?s elephant population
represents a key linkage between the larger populations of Namibia and
Botswana. Elephants in Angola were decimated during the 1975-2002 Angolan
civil war, but a 2005 survey showed that populations were recolonizing
former habitats. Between 2005 and 2015, no research was permitted on
elephants in Angola, but elsewhere in Africa many elephant populations
experienced a poaching crisis. In 2015, we were able to resume elephant
research in Angola. We used aerial surveys and satellite monitoring of
collared elephants to determine the current status of elephant populations
in Angola and to learn how human populations may be affecting elephant
habitat usage. The aerial survey revealed a population of 3,395 – SE of 797
elephants, but populations had declined 21% from the 2005 estimate. The
high number of carcasses observed on the survey suggests that populations
may have increased after the 2005 survey but were declining rapidly as of
2015. Satellite-collared elephants avoided areas <6 km from human
indicators but preferred areas nearer humans at scales of 6?40 km,
suggesting that humans may be displacing elephants from preferred habitats
near rivers. Taken together, these results suggest that Angola’s elephant
population is experiencing intense poaching and may be losing habitat to
human settlements. Without action to conserve their populations, Angola’s
elephants face an uncertain future.




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