More details about the project
The Elephant Care and Research project was established in 2010 as there was a lack of research completed on captive elephants in South Africa, particularly with respect to their welfare and husbandry.
The park provides a home to elephants, providing them with an improved environment, healthy diet, enrichment and access to veterinary care and the research unit is the first of its kind to be dedicated to research to help guide the management of captive elephants to promote the best possible care.
The park conducts research on African elephants in “free-range captivity”, where elephants have room to roam but interact with people as part of a larger tourist facility. The park is open to tourists every day of the week and tours take place up to every 30 minutes. Volunteers and staff conduct their research around the park visitors.
The research team monitor and observe the elephants who live at the park, collecting research to support improvements in both captive elephant welfare and assisting in research for wild elephant management. For example the team have developed new methods to improve herd dynamics in captive elephants who interact with tourists and are providing case studies for new techniques to help reduce human-elephant conflict in the wild.
Volunteers help the local team to feed and care for the elephants which is no small task! Volunteers are an important part of the research unit as they enable them to gain more elephant data which allows for a greater insight and understanding of this fascinating species.
One of the most important contributions that volunteers make is through monitoring the interactions between elephants and visitors to the park. These research findings have led to improvements in the recommended management of captive elephants and ensures that a positive and responsible balance is kept with the ongoing tourism activities.
Having volunteers’ assistance has allowed the research team to undertake more studies, including the Elephant Listening project, and also contribute to research to help reduce human-elephant conflict in wild elephant populations.
Volunteers act as ambassadors for the research team by helping to spread the word about their elephant research results, welfare and conservation issues.