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Amo Barungwi

Reserach Interests:  Spatiotemporal analysis of the African elephant (Loxodonta Africana) population in Northern Botswana (1986-2013) and environmental covariates affecting the population

African elephants are listed as “Vulnerable” under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red data because the global population is declining. The declines are attributed to poaching for ivory (illegal trade), Human-Wildlife conflict and habitat loss. The species is also listed in Appendix I under the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild flora and fauna, (CITES), except for populations of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe whose populations are in Appendix II.

Although the global population of African elephant is under threat and declining, Southern Africa has a stable population with the highest population residing in Botswana. The population in Botswana is believed to be increasing at a constant rate.

The country, through the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP), has been monitoring the elephant population size as an umbrella species, through its aerial survey monitoring programme since 1989 to date. The data is then presented into population estimates and trends, which only provides basic information about the population for wildlife mangers but not enough for effective formulation of policies and management plans. Population size alone is not enough to advise the formulation of management decisions for elephants and biodiversity conservation in the country.

Therefore, through the following objectives, this project will provide more information beyond population size, to advise management decisions on elephants and biodiversity conservation in Botswana:

 1.        To establish how environmental covariates and anthropogenic factors influence the spatial distribution of elephants in Botswana

2.         To estimate the population growth and its demography in the elephant range of Botswana

3.         To evaluate current population monitoring tools used by the Botswana Government using the results of the analysis from this project