Original Research

Elephant movement patterns in relation to human inhabitants in and around the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park

Robin M. Cook, Michelle D. Henley, Francesca Parrini
Koedoe | Vol 57, No 1 | a1298 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v57i1.1298 | © 2015 Robin M. Cook, Michelle D. Henley, Francesca Parrini | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 February 2015 | Published: 17 November 2015

About the author(s)

Robin M. Cook, School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Michelle D. Henley, Applied Behavioural Ecology and Ecosystem Research Unit, University of South Africa, South Africa; Elephants Alive, Hoedspruit, South Africa, South Africa
Francesca Parrini, School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa


The presence of humans and African elephants (Loxodonta africana) in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park can create situations of potential human–elephant conflict. Such conflict will likely be exacerbated as elephant and human populations increase, unless mitigation measures are put in place. In this study we analysed the movement patterns of 13 collared adult African elephants from the northern Kruger National Park over a period of eight years (2006–2014). We compared the occurrence and displacement rates of elephant bulls and cows around villages in the Limpopo National Park and northern border of the Kruger National Park across seasons and at different times of the day. Elephants occurred close to villages more often in the dry season than in the wet season, with bulls occurring more frequently around villages than cows. Both the bulls and the cows preferred to use areas close to villages from early evening to midnight, with the bulls moving closer to villages than the cows. These results suggest that elephants, especially the bulls, are moving through the studied villages in Mozambique and Zimbabwe at night and that these movements are most common during the drier months when resources are known to be scarce.

Conservation implications: Elephants from the Kruger National Park are moving in close proximity to villages within the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. Resettlement of villages within and around the park should therefore be planned away from elephant seasonal routes to minimise conflict between humans and elephants.


Human-Elephant Conflict; Loxodonta africana; Movement Patterns; Protected Areas


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