The use of GPS radio-collars to track elephants (Loxodonta africana) in the Tarangire National Park (Tanzania)
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Istituto Oikos, Tarangire Conservation Project
Università degli Studi dell'Insubria, Dipartimento di Biologia Strutturale e Funzionale, Unità di Analisi e Gestione delle Biocenosi
Princeton University, Tarangire Elephant Project
Publication date: 2000-09-10
Hystrix It. J. Mamm. 2000;11(2)
Abstract The GPS (Global Positioning System) telemetry was used in Tarangire National Park (Tanzania) to study migration routes and the use of space by elephants (Loxodonta africana). Five female elephants were captured in November 1997 in five different areas of Tarangire National Park and fitted with GPS collars. The collar consists of a 6 channel Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver, a radio-modem for data communication, a non volatile memory, and an independent VHF transmitter. The operator can «communicate» with the collar through a command unit connected to a PC. The GPS collar receives signals from different satellites which permits automatic calculation of its position, with an accuracy of 25 m. The data collected in the period November 1997 - April 1998 show that three female elephants mainly used the northern sector of the park, moving sometimes outside the protected area about 10 to 20 km NE of the park boundary. Also the two female elephants captured in the southern sector of the park moved outside, travelling about 80 km SE of the park boundary. Home range size varied between 159 and 660 km² for the northern elephants (n=3), and between 2104 and 3314 km² for the southern elephants (n=2). The elephants whose ranges extended outside the park exhibited their highest movement rate from 4 p.m. to 12 p.m., while those animals within the park had the highest movement rates during daylight hours (from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.). We discuss the advantages and shortcomings of GPS-telemetry as a means of gathering useful information on space use and movements of elephants for the development of long-term conservation strategies for large herbivores in the whole Tarangire area.