Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects

Department

Biology

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

In savanna ecosystems, African elephants (Loxodonta africana) and large trees such as marula (Sclerocarya birreaand) and knobthorn (Acacia nigrescens) have ecological and human value; however, elephants have a large impact on favored trees, motivating the need for ecological conservation strategies. This study examined the perceptions of tourists and residents towards elephants, large trees, and other relevant factors for management purposes. In the Associated Private Nature Reserves, South Africa, a survey was distributed to tourists and residents to determine perceptions of elephants of different age classes, group sizes and sex, and toward savanna habitat impacted to varying degrees by elephants. Both interest groups had high attractiveness rankings for all elephant types. Undamaged tree types received high attractiveness rankings while damaged trees received lower ranks, revealing a conflict of interests. Undamaged trees and the elephant types that cause high amounts of impact to those trees are both liked. Respondents may not be associating attractiveness levels with levels of impact. Residents encouraged more intrusive elephant management methods than tourists. Environmental manipulation was found to be the most supported and balanced technique. This supports the use of meta-population management, which focuses primarily on the environment and the elephant population secondarily.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Dr. Bruce Schulte

Disciplines

Biology

Included in

Biology Commons

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