African Elephants in Gonarezhou
11,000 elephants roam through the wilderness of Gonarezhou, 20 of them wear radio collars.
Through a long-standing, successful partnership between the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and the Frankfurt Zoological Society, the elephant population in Gonarezhou has been well protected. With an estimated 11 000 elephants, at a density of more than 2 elephants/km2, Gonarezhou has one of the highest densities of elephants on the continent. As part of FZS’s support to ZPWMA, an elephant collaring exercise was carried out in 2009, and again in 2016 (Additional studies were also carried out by local research institutions). The aim of placing satellite collars on elephants in Gonarezhou, close to the Park boundaries, was primarily to achieve a better understanding of their movements, and the degree to which elephants are crossing out of the Park into the wider ecosystem - both to determine options for linkages to other protected areas within the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area as well as to pinpoint potential areas of conflict between elephants and human settlements outside the Park.
Protecting elephants and their habitats is at the core of our conservation efforts, and the data gathered through the collaring exercise feeds directly into this process.
There are no fences that prevents these animals from wandering outside the Park, and with the growing population of elephant inside Gonarezhou it is inevitable, and for the sake of conservation on a wider scale, even desirable, for elephants and other animals to move across the Park’s boundaries. One of these collared bulls were shot on a legal hunt in Naivasha in the first week of March. Naivasha is an area directly adjacent to Gonarezhou that has been set aside for wildlife and safari hunting by local communities. There is no law that protects a collared animal from being hunted in Zimbabwe, but there is general acceptance that the ethical position is that a hunter will avoid shooting an animal with a collar.
The data from this bull has been captured and will help us with our ongoing efforts to find solutions, together with our local and international partners, to conservation questions in a world where the challenges to find space for wildlife and their habitats are becoming ever more complicated.