MALAWI ELEPHANT RESEARCH PROJECT

CONCEPT

Malawi is a small country with a very high population density and the second highest rate of deforestation in Southern Africa. These combined factors have resulted in fragmented protected areas scattered throughout the country. Isolation, encroachment and habitat loss is threatening much of Malawi’s remaining elephant population.

Malawi is home to two transboundary elephant populations, the largest of which is found in the north of the country. This population is geographically important as it provides a transboundary link to priority populations in the Luangwa-Zambezi Valley through the Malawi-Zambia Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA). This TFCA facilitates elephant dispersal and movement, thereby ensuring source-sink population dynamics which are crucial to population persistence. Nyika National Park (NP) is Malawi’s largest protected area and forms one section of this TFCA. Whilst no previous systematic research or monitoring of elephants has occurred in Nyika NP, it is estimated that 50-60 resident elephants remain.

Our elephant research project prioritises identifying and understanding transboundary movement corridors. We also assess the status, behavioural and spatial ecology of elephants in the Malawian section of the Malawi-Zambia TFCA. Findings from this project will inform and fill knowledge gaps identified by Malawi’s National Elephant Action Plan and support cross-border corporation and law enforcement work.

 ACTIVITIES

Individual elephant identification and database development

  • Diet assessment using dung surveys
  • Vegetation assessments and mapping
  • Data entry and GIS mapping
  • Camera trapping
  • Follow-ups on tourist and ranger reports on elephant activity

 

RESEARCH STUDENTS

Precise activities vary based on time of year, priority and reserve requirements. For these reasons participants are not guaranteed to take part in all activities. If you have a specific interest in particular techniques or aspects of our work please contact placements@lilongwewildlife.org. Research students interested in the Malawi Elephant Research Project should contact us to explore what projects are currently being undertaken and what research gaps need to be addressed. 

 

PARTNERS