African elephant home range and habitat selection in Pongola Game Reserve, South Africa
The ranging behaviour and habitat occupancy by three elephant groups (cow herd, bulls, and an orphan group) were studied over a two-year period in a small, fenced reserve. No summer dispersal was observed. Distinct seasonal home ranges were exhibited for all groups, with the summer (wet season) ranges being smaller than the winter (dry season) ranges. Home range size was much smaller than in other locations. The dam and surrounding high density of patches of vegetation of high nutritional quality are thought to be the reasons. Habitat selection was strongly evident with all of the elephant groups selecting River Line habitats in the dry season. In the wet season the cow herd and orphans selected the more open Acacia habitats and the bulls exhibited no significant habitat preference.
Keywords: elephant, seasonal range, habitat selection, range use