• For almost 25 years, Elephants Alive has been studying African elephants, to ensure their survival, and to promote harmony with humans. We work in the Greater Kruger region, monitoring free-roaming elephants across South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.
• We have collared >100 elephants and created a database of >2,000 individual elephants – to understand their movements and population dynamics, and now to identify poaching hotspots. These elephant ID studies are the longest and most consistent in all of southern Africa.
• Our research prioritises male elephants, as much less is known about bulls. When compared to females, their larger tusks and home ranges place them at more risk from human-elephant conflict (HEC). Our research is helping us understand the ecological role of bulls as ecosystem engineers where we focus on their impact on the vegetation and their role as corridor movers linking Protected Areas. We investigate their social role as mentors to younger bulls and their economic importance as targets to poachers and trophy hunters.
• To ensure conservation success, and the long-term preservation of these free-ranging elephants, Elephants Alive believes it is critical to empower, inform and involve local impoverished communities. We run outreach programs with the local communities and government schools. Our programmes include:
1. Collaborating with Wild Shots Outreach – photography courses are run with key communities where there is Human-Elephant-Conflict. Programs include local students documenting an elephant collaring, follow-up photo exhibitions are held in the Maseke and Mashishimale rural communities, west of Kruger, in a region where poaching is unfortunately increasing.
2. When the Wise Meet the Wise - introducing Ndlopfu Gogos (Elephant Grandmothers) to some of our iconic study animals, as the Grandmothers from the surrounding communities are the repositories of knowledge not unlike the elephant matriarchs who lead the family units. A Wild Shots Outreach student is contracted to document the grandmothers meeting their first ever elephant through portraits which will be exhibited both locally and abroad.
3. The Black Mamba all-female Anti-Poaching Unit where we empowering black women to keep bees and develop their entrepreneurial abilities to further enhance these inspirational ladies’ skillsets as role models for young learners.
• To prevent elephants from having an impact on iconic large trees, potentially also affecting the vulture nests they may contain, we are pioneering the use of beehives as one of a range of deterrents as it is known that elephants do not like bees. While reducing Human-Elephant Conflict (HEC) over natural resources, we produce “elephant friendly” honey and honey related products such as lip balm, honey-infused soaps and reusable food wax wraps as a sweet outcome of this initiative.
• Elephants Alive believes in providing science-based information and creating awareness of the plight of elephants through education, advocacy and partnership building, both locally and internationally. Our research is providing fundamental inputs for elephant management and protection, community based resource management and tourist interactions.
• The Director of Elephants Alive, Dr. Michelle Henley, won the prestigious SANParks Kudu Award for Conservation in 2019 and was named one of “the ten most inspiring women in South Africa” in 2017.