Elephants on the move: how protecting and connecting landscapes can save a species

How African elephant populations have stabilised due to new protection efforts

In the vast and diverse landscapes of Africa, many magnificent creatures roam, including the endangered savannah elephants. A recent study, published in the journal 'Science Advances', explores how new conservation efforts across southern Africa have stablised savannah elephant populations. Although this research is valuable for scientists, it also holds important lessons in conservation for pupils. 

African savannahs, covering almost half of the continent, are home to these incredible creatures. Imagine vast landscapes, stretching for miles, where elephants freely roam. But, as you might guess, sharing space with humans has its challenges: centuries of poaching and hunting have drastically decimated elephant populations in Africa. However, since 1995, researchers have been discovering two main strategies to help our elephant friends: ‘conservation fortresses’ and clusters of well-protected areas connected to less-protected buffer zones. 

Conservation fortresses are like magical islands, keeping elephants in and people out. While this reduces conflicts, it also limits elephant movement. On the other hand, elephant highways, a network of connected areas, allow these gentle giants to roam freely while also letting humans use some parts of the land. The study suggests that large, well-protected and connected areas provide the best solution for conserving elephants and their landscapes in southern Africa.

The Elephant Playground - Activity Ideas:

Southern Africa, home to 70% of Africa's savannah elephants, became a natural laboratory for researchers. They found that larger, strictly protected areas with connections between them had more stable and growing elephant populations. This is like having a playground that's not too small and lets everyone play happily!

Count the Elephants - Activity Ideas:

If you would like to further explore conservation, our Year 4 and Year 6 units offer a thorough exploration of various sustainability issues. By discussing the research on savannah elephants with your class, you not only make learning fun but also instill a sense of responsibility and awareness about topical research in your pupils.