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Launch of an elephant ID project to support an elephant population census in Luambe National Park, Zambia

Elephant ID Book

The last published elephant survey data for the Luangwa Valley was in 2016, with an estimated population of >13,000 individuals. Only 54 individuals were associated with Luambe National Park (DNPW, 2016 and IUCN, 2016). As the park has open borders with adjacent game management areas and communal lands, it is important to better understand the elephant population, its numbers and dynamics. We therefore set up a ground-based elephant identification project based on visual cues such as ear notches, tusks and body shape. Prior to the collection of data, we compiled information for the population census and identification methods.

Elephant ID

We documented elephants through photography, capturing distinctive features such as unique ear notches, tusk shapes and body proportions.

Each sighting was recorded with ID-specific information such as sex, estimated age, group size, location coordinates, date and other relevant details. Following data collection, we curated a database of 40 identified individuals, organised by their specific characteristics.

The culmination of this effort was the development of an Elephant ID Book, which forms the basis for monitoring purposes and future research. As this is a non-exhaustive list and a snapshot of the population, we encourage further individuals to be added and for future surveys to collect group ID information and missing physical characteristics for the individuals listed. This book serves as a baseline instrument for identifying and monitoring individual elephants, aiding population monitoring, conservation efforts and understanding the complex dynamics of elephant communities. It is also a powerful tool for understanding potential threats to elephant populations (e.g. poaching, snaring, etc.) and for managing human-elephant conflict.

Luambe elephant ID book


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