Elephant Research

Victoria Falls

Elephant Research in Victoria Falls

The Zambezi Elephant Project was a research project implemented in 2018, aiming to improve knowledge and understanding of elephant population and ecology in Zambezi National Park in Victoria Falls and surrounding areas.

The Zambezi National Park lies on the Northern border of Zimbabwe and contains an estimated 4 000 elephants. However there large research gaps in their demography, long term population trends, relationship with humans or impact on the park’s vegetation. Such information is vital for wildlife management purposes, protection of the elephant population, maintenance of ecosystem health, decision making and effective mitigation of human-elephant conflict within the park and neighbouring local communities.

ALERT identified and worked to address the following 3 research gaps for elephant research in the Victoria Falls area (ZNP and Matetsi ECA):

  • Elephant population demography: Calculate the demography of the elephant population of the park. Assess long term trends. Progress has been made towards developing the methodology to assess vegetation change and elephant impact on vegetation in the park, either around the water holes in Chamabondo or in particular vegetation types: eg mopane woodland, known to be preferred forage for elephants.
  • Elephant impact on vegetation: Assess the nature and scale of elephant damage across the various vegetation types within ZNP. Sampling has begun on a weekly basis. The data collected when a sighting is made includes the date, time, location, total count, number males and females grouped according to age.
  • Human elephant conflict (HEC): Evaluate the nature and scale of HEC in communities located in the Matetsi Environmental Conservation Area (ECA) and initiate mitigation techniques. Assess HEC within the park (along roads and near lodges) and identify elephants’ access points to the Zambezi River