New Publication: Space Use by Elephants in Myanmar's Human-Wildland Interface
Our team of elephant researchers have come together to produce a new paper on the spatial ecology of Asian elephants in Myanmar. This piece of work was lead by my good friend the talented Mr. Aung Nyein Chan who is one of the leading lights of elephant conservation in Myanmar and I couldn't be happier to see this paper coming to fruition after a lot of hard work.
Asian elephant numbers are declining across much of their range driven largely by serious threats from land use change resulting in habitat loss and fragmentation. Myanmar is undergoing major developments due to recent sociopolitical changes. To effectively manage and conserve the remaining populations of endangered elephants in the country, it is crucial to understand their ranging behavior.
In this paper we looked at the home range sizes of elephants across seasons and assessed which landscape characteristics affect home range sizes and movement behaviour. We found highly variable home range sizes from 792.0 km2 to184.2 km2. We found both the shape and spatial configuration of agriculture and natural vegetation patches within an individual elephant’s range play a significant role in determining the size of its range. We also found that elephants move more, and hence expend more energy, in ranges with higher percentages of agricultural area.
These results provide crucial baseline information on elephant movements and space use in a country that represents one of the last strongholds for these endangered giants. This information can be used for future planning of land use and conservation actions. The paper is open access and can be read here.