About ten years ago, I began working with big terrestrial mammals in Loango forest. I worked for five years in the conservation field, as a team leader on several conservation projects. The first project was the inventory of fauna and flora carried in 1,132,000 hectares of forests, coastal savannas, swamp forests and lagoons in SW Gabon. I worked for the Ministry of Forestry Economy, in collaboration with Wildlife Conservation Society and WWF. During this work I was able to observe the way elephants range into young secondary forests and large marshes at certain times of year, and since that time it has been my dream to better understand their biology and seasonal movements. Between 2000 - 2002 I worked on Gabon’s national protected areas evaluation, a collaborative project between the Ministry of Forest Economy, the Wildlife Conservation Society and World Wildlife Fund. I lead survey work in Monts de Cristal, Massif du Chaillu and the Batéké Plateau during over two years of fieldwork that enabled me to really get to know forest elephants.
Thanks to data from GPS collars placed on elephants in Loango National Park (Steve Blake et al.), I seek to understand the seasonal movements of elephants in the Loango National Park in order to promote conservation and develop an appropriate management plan. I also gathered data on the ground using linear transects for direct observations and indirect signs, particularly dung counts. Detailed vegetation maps exist already for the entire area and will facilitate development of a rigorous sampling plan.
This study will provide:
- An evaluation of the current boundaries of Loango National park with regards to elephant populations
- An assessment of habitat use by elephants in relation to season
- New information on elephant ecology in the coastal forests of Gabon
- New information on the social organization of Loango's elephant population
- Estimates of Forest Elephant Abundance: projecting relationship between precision and Effort, (2001). P.D. Walsh, L.J.T. White, C. Mbina, D. Idiata, Y. Mihindou, F. Maisels, & M. Thibault. Journal of Applied Ecology 38: 217-228
- A Statistical framework for Monitoring Forest Elephant, (2000). P.D. Walsh, M. Thibault, Y. Mihindou, D. Idiata, C. Mbina & L.J.T. White. Natural Resource Modeling 13: 89-134.
- Catastrophic ape decline in western equatorial Africa, (2003). P.D. Walsh, A. Kate, B. Magdalena, Daniel Idiata Mambounga, Marc Thibault, Caroline E. G. Tutin, Lee J. T. White, David S. Wilkie & al. Nature/6 April 2003/ doi: 10.1038/Nature 01566/ www.nature.com/nature