Organisation in the Spotlight: Elephants Alive!
For 20 years, Elephants Alive has been monitoring the ecology and demography of one of southern Africa’s largest continuous elephant populations. They have developed an individual elephant identification database of >1500 elephants in the Greater Kruger Area (including the Association of Private Nature Reserves (APNR) and Kruger National Park), as well as monitoring movements of radio-collared elephants throughout the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe).
Co- founder of Elephants Alive, Dr. Michelle Henley (Tusk Trust Conservation Award finalist 2016, and winner of the WESSA’s National Award for an Individual, 2013), believes in providing science-based information and creating awareness of the plight of elephants through education, advocacy and partnership building, both locally and internationally. Her research is providing fundamental inputs for elephant management and protection, community based resource management and tourist interactions.
To ensure conservation success, and the long-term preservation of these free-ranging elephants, Elephants Alive believes it is critical to empower, inform and involve local impoverished communities – thereby promoting harmonious co-existence between man and elephants.
Since 1998, Elephants Alive have collared 63 elephants (109 collaring operations), and individually identified 1500+ elephants in the Association of Private Nature Reserves (west of Kruger), to map and understand their movements. This research helps inform managers, conservation bodies and landowners on seasonal movement, sustainability of hunting, effects on vegetation where elephants and man co-exist – and worryingly now also identifying poaching hotspots, thus informing deployment of anti-poaching patrols.
These findings have been critical allowing SANPARKS more flexibility in their elephant population management programme. It is now accepted that elephants can disperse into adjacent areas and together with the closure of artificial water points which helps control their reproductive output because of the knock on effect to vegetation resources, culling is not needed for the immediate future.
Mitigating human : elephant conflict.
Elephants Alive works hard to minimize human: elephant conflict. One of the biggest issues is elephants damaging large trees. Since 2004, 3000+ individual trees have been monitored to understand elephant impact.
Elephants Alive are pioneering an innovative approach using bee hives suspended in trees. The elephants dislike bees and avoid these trees – a win: win solution protecting the tree, generating honey for sale, providing nesting sites for endangered vultures, and mitigating human elephant conflict.
Community engagement, upliftment and education.
In order to ensure sustainable action, it is critical to empower, inform and involve local communities. Elephants Alive are supporting and actively engaging with the Maseke and Mshishimale rural communities, west of Kruger, in a region where poaching is unfortunately increasing – running education programmes, with the Black Mamba all-female anti-poaching patrols, thereby empowering black women, improving community liaison efforts and providing inspirational role models for young learners and Wild Shots Photography Outreach to further their environmental educational outreach into communities to the west of Kruger as well as within the Makuleke Community in the north of the Park.
How You Can Get Involved:
Elephants Alive have two major fundraising events coming up, and the public is encouraged to get involved:
Celebrating Elephants, on the 4th October at COOBS Restaurant in Parkhurst: Dine in style and meet award-winning scientist, author and artist, Dr. Michelle Henley
Riverleigh Equestrian-Annual Fancy Dress Freestyle Charity Event: The annual fancy dress freestyle charity event is one of the highlights on the Riverleigh International Equestrian Centre`s event calendar. Elephants Alive are this years beneficiaries. Riders of all ages enter and compete in this freestyle event and the routines are judged by professional judges. Prizes and trophies are awarded to the best riders for their technical ability and their innovative “fancy dress freestyle routines”.
Find out more about Elephants Alive: