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Home range, association and related aspects of elephants in the eastern Transvaal Lowveld

African journal of ecology 1997 v.35 no.3 pp. 224-236
Loxodonta africana, avoidance behavior, conservation areas, dry season, females, males, national parks, radio telemetry, South Africa
Home range and association patterns of elephants Loxodonta africana in private nature reserves adjacent to the Kruger National Park, South Africa, were determined over a period of six years by using radio telemetry. The minimum convex polygon (MCP) and harmonic mean (HM) methods were used for data processing. The minimum and maximum range areas required by females were estimated at 115 and 465 km², respectively, whilst those of males varied between 157 and 342 km². Core areas of females comprised on average 10·1% of the range areas as calculated by the MCP method. Range areas between females in the Klaserie and Timbavati Private Nature Reserves differed significantly. A significant difference in range size was also found between the male population (pooled data) and the females of the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve. Range areas increased from the wet to the dry season. Three male elephant categories were established, namely males utilizing the same area during the study period, those who shifted their range areas and individuals with very large range areas which frequented the area on an irregular basis. A loose relationship existed between males. Association between females can be attributed to kinship and not to the overlapping of range areas. Results indicated avoidance behaviour between females in their core areas, which might partially explain the ability of elephants to tolerate high densities. It is concluded that male elephant hunting should be approached with caution.