Mapping Landscape Resistance to Identify Corridors and Barriers for Elephant Movement in Southern Africa

  • Samuel A. Cushman
  • Michael Chase
  • Curtice Griffin


One of Africa's greatest conservation successes is the recovery of elephant (Loxodonta africana) populations within protected areas (e.g. Aleper and Moe 2006), such as those in northern Botswana. This recovery poses several challenges, however. First, habitat within protected areas is becoming degraded from high intensity elephant browsing. Second, the increasing elephant and human populations in the region have led to large increases in human—elephant conflict along the periphery of protected areas (Sitati et al. 2005; Lee and Graham 2006). Management options include facilitating natural dispersal, active relocation, and culling. Relocation is prohibitively expensive as a population-level solution given the high per capita cost. Culling is politically unpopular given Botswana's booming wildlife tourist industry. Simultaneously, large areas of the neighboring countries of Namibia, Zambia and Angola have low elephant densities. Some of these governments desire to increase elephant populations within their protected areas to promote the growth of wildlife tourism. Thus, facilitated dispersal of elephants from high density areas of northern Botswana to protected areas in other countries with low elephant densities is an attractive potential solution.


Movement Path Cost Path Okavango Delta Mapping Landscape Cost Distance 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aleper D, Moe SR (2006) The African savannah elephant population in Kidepo Valley National Park, Uganda: changes in size and structure from 1967 to 2000. Afr J Ecol 44:157–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Chamaille-Jammes S, Valiex M, Fritz H (2007) Managing heterogeneity in elephant distribution: interactions between elephant population density and surface-water availability. J Appl Ecol 44:625–633CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chamaille-Jammes S (2006) Under the African sky: from climatic fluctuations to the regulation of populations, the role of surface-water in the spatio-temporal dynamics of a large elephant population. Ph.D. Thesis, University Pierre et Marie Curie, ParisGoogle Scholar
  4. Compton BW, McGarigal K, Cushman S, Gamble L (2007) A resistant-kernel model of connectivity for amphibians that breed in vernal pools. Conservat Biol 21:788–799CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cushman SA, Chase M, Griffin C (2005) Elephants in space and time. Oikos 109:331–341CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cushman SA, McKelvey KS, Hayden J, Schwartz MK (2006) Gene flow in complex landscapes: testing multiple hypotheses with causal modelling. Am Nat 168:486–499CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Cushman SA, McKelvey KS, Schwartz MK (2009) Identifying corridors for the movement of black bear (Ursus americanus) between Yellowstone National Park and the Canadian Border. Conservat Biol 23:368–376CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. ESRI (2005) ArcInfo Workstation. ESRI, Redlands, CaliforniaGoogle Scholar
  9. Fortin M-J, Dale M (2005) Spatial analysis: a guide for ecologists. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  10. Lee PC, Graham MD (2006) African elephants Loxodonta Africana and human-elephant interactions: implications for conservation. Int Zoo Yearbk 40:9–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Levin SA (1992) The problem of pattern and scale in ecology. Ecology 73:1943–1967CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Murwira A, Skidmore AK (2005) The response of elephants to the spatial heterogeneity of vegetation in a Southern African agricultural landscape. Landsc Ecol 20:217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Osborn F V, Parker GE (2003) Linking two elephant refuges with a corridor in the communal lands of Zimbabwe. Afr J Ecol 41:68–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Siati NW, Walpole MJ, Leader-Williams N (2005) Factors affecting susceptibility of farms to crop raiding by African elephants: using a predictive model to mitigate conflict. J Appl Ecol 42:1175–1182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Sitati NW, Walpole MJ, Smith RJ, Leader-Williams N (2003) Predicting spatial aspects of human-elephant conflict. J Appl Ecol 40:157–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Wiens JA (1989) Spatial scaling in ecology. Funct Ecol 3:385–397CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samuel A. Cushman
    • Michael Chase
      • 1
    • Curtice Griffin
      • 2
    1. 1.Elephants Without BordersKasaneBotswana
    2. 2.Department of Natural Resources ConservationUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA

    Personalised recommendations