Climate change: the African Elephant in the room

Did you know that elephants cannot sweat? As the largest terrestrial mammal, African Savannah Elephants (Loxodonta africana) have very poor heat transfer mechanisms and are biophysically susceptible to drought so they rely heavily on external water sources. Higher temperatures and decreasing rainfall are known to have negative effects on the immediate behavior and survival of elephants, but very little long term research has been done on their movement or spatial dynamics in response to a changing climate which is becoming evident as the drought across Southern Africa gets worse. With 84% living within protected areas, and most populations being fenced in – they are unable to migrate to their ancient water sources while their perennial water continues to dry up. My research aims to highlight that elephants are and will continue to respond to climate change, and that this response is a risk to themselves, other vulnerable species and vulnerable communities inside and outside the parks by using predominantly GIS and a community-based approach.