EFFECTS OF CHANGES IN ELEPHANT DENSITIES ON THE ECOSYSTEM AND OTHER SPECIES

Concerns over elephant impacts to woody plants in African savannas have highlighted shifts in vegetation community composition with implications for possible reductions in biodiversity. Habitat loss poses the greatest threat to species. Large herbivores such as elephants (Loxodonta africana) apparently have a negative impact on woody vegetation at moderate to high population densities. The confounding effects that fire, drought, and management history have may complicate assignment of such impacts to herbivory.

 

My analysis showed that high elephant densities had a negative effect on woody vegetation but that rainfall and presence of migratory corridors influenced these effects. In arid savannas, woody vegetation always responded negatively to elephants, in Namunyak, because of the Mathew ranges which provide a lot water most elephants migrate from samburu national reserve to Namunyak which makes their population very high and their effects are pronounced.

Hence, in my research I was concerned with the changes brought about through the presence of elephants on the species composition, vegetation structure and functioning of the ecosystems of which they are a component. These changes are judged within the context of the overriding context of biodiversity conservation, which is a primary aim set by humans for much of the land within which these elephants reside.

 

My objectives of my research were to identify the effects of elephants to the Namunyak ecosystem and the species affected. After analyzing my results I found that elephants usually reduce bush lands to grasslands hence favoring grazers but I discovered that elephants feed on grass most of the time and this results in direct competition with grazers.

 

My research methods included a detailed questionnaire which I prepared and gave the community to answer, I also interviewed the key persons in Namunyak who are concerned with conservation and I also used observation method where I was taken around the conservancy to appreciate the effects of elephants.

Documentation :