Program

RESEARCH & OUTREACH

Over the years AERP has made a major contribution to elephant science. The AERP knowledgebase provides powerful and authoritative support to elephant conservation and advocacy campaigns worldwide. The AERP presence in the Amboseli area for more than three decades has ensured the survival of the elephants as well as the Amboseli ecosystem.

Dionysus immobilization
Norah, Soila & Katito take Dionysus' particulars

AERP research areas: social organization, behavior, demography, ecological dynamics, spatial analyses and mapping, communication, genetics, human-elephant interaction, cognition. Long-term monitoring and the four-decade longitudinal databases underpin all research topics.

Outreach to the Maasai community comprises education and consolation. Support is provided to promising young the form of secondary school bursaries and university scholarships. The program aspires to build a cadre of educated and aware persons who will eventually return to the region to work in conservation and development.

Since 1997, elephant trust has operated a ‘consolation scheme’ to provide cash donations to Maasai herders as a way of saying 'pole' (pronounced poh'-lay, meaning 'sorry' in Kiswahili) for the loss of a cow, sheep or goat killed by an elephant.

ACHIEVEMENTS

Elephant Conservation

Thirty years of AERP presence and protection in Amboseli:

  • One of the last undisturbed elephant populations in Africa.
  • Tranquil elephants with an intact social structure and individuals ranging in age from newborn to over sixty.
  • Knowledge gained from a natural, well-known population is a key to devising elephant conservation strategies throughout Africa.
  • Improvement in attitudes of Maasai community.

Elephant Advocacy

Major contribution to change of attitude towards elephants:

  • Enhanced public awareness worldwide through five full-length documentary films, seven books, eighty scientific publications and forty popular articles.
  • Elephants no longer considered just a ivory-on-the-hoof commodity or as objects of entertainment; now widely viewed as intelligent, complex, sentient beings.
  • Former hard-line utilization schools now discussing the ethical side of managing elephants.
  • Major influence in ethical debate on keeping captive elephants, for example, Statement on the Use of Elephants in Circuses.

Elephant Research

Scientific discoveries:

  • Structure and dynamics of complex social networks.
  • Matriarchs as repository of survival knowledge.
  • Musth and male ‘seasonality’.
  • Reproductive strategies in ever-changing environments.
  • Communication, vocal imitation and an elephant ‘vocabulary’.
  • Leadership strategies and use of range.
  • Social relations and genetic relatedness.
  • Longevity as survival strategy.