African Savanna Elephant

Population Estimate & Habitat Use of African Savanna Elephant in Chebera Churchura National Park, Ethiopia (2019 – $1,440)

Anagaw Atickem, PhD – Addis Ababa University

The Savanna elephant (Loxodonta Africana) is one of the flagship species of Africa that showed a drastic decline in abundance during the last century. Ethiopia has lost about 90% of its elephant population and only about 2000 individuals remain currently. From the three main elephant populations in the country, Chebera Churchura National Park (CCNP) is the most important population. So far, no systematic study has been carried out to estimate the population size, however those working in the park speculate the population can be as large as 500 individuals.

Because much of the park is forest and elephants appeared to use the forest more often, the estimate given on focal observation may not be accurate. More detailed studies on the population size using more appropriate methods for forest habitat, such as dung pile count, may provide more accurate and reliable population estimate. Elephant dung counts across the park also reflect which particular habitat is used more often.

A conservation grant from Sequoia Park Zoo will help fund two research assistants who, along with Dr. Atickem will determine the population size and habitat use of elephants in CCNP using dung pile counts. The habitat use and potential of suitable habitat for elephants will also be derived from presence or absence models based on the dung piles count.