Terms of Reference
Since the closure of the Elephant Managers & Owners Association (EMOA) there is no organisation that can give technical advice with elephant related problems or develop guidelines for wise elephant management in South Africa. In recent years, various official nature conservation departments have indicated that they would appreciate a group that can advise on particular issues, evaluate applications and assist with developing guidelines.
South Africa in particular has a unique situation, where all elephants are fenced in, many have been translocated, and most are living in small, severed groups. Intensive management and intervention by humans tend to create new problems, which we are increasingly experiencing. It is only now after 20 years that translocated related problems are emerging. The advisory group is being established to assist with these.
To provide expert advice on any elephant related issue to elephant managers and owners
This will be done through an interactive internet website and elephant forum for South Africa.
The website will contain short summaries of interesting news, research findings and background information on ESAG and its members.
ESAG will set up an online forum and lead the discussions. This forum will be a platform for any interested person or organisation dealing with elephant issues, to disseminate and share information and to interact in an unbiased manner.
ESAG will incorporate elephant experts as well as scientists from related fields (animal and plant ecologists, veterinarians, behaviour specialists etc.). The sum of these should be in the position of providing advice and/or active assistance to any owner, or else facilitate such assistance.
To develop and promote best practice management guidelines as well as manuals for field guides and the public
Many owners do not have the expertise to compile an elephant management plan and many environmental consultants are not qualified to act as elephant specialists. This is where ESAG can assist with supplying level related templates for developing management plans as well as level related criteria required for the necessary expertise.
Experience showed that most game guides have not had specific training on how to take their guests near elephants and avoid dangerous situations. Manuals and training in this regard would be appreciated by most. ESAG will develop such.
The self-drive public is largely ignorant on elephant behaviour and may find themselves in precarious or dangerous situations. Information and manuals should alleviate many problems. ESAG will develop such manuals. Dissemination will be through the official reserve management or the private owners/managers.
To promote the restoration of elephant social structure and psyche
Through the processes of human intervention such as culling, translocation and other management options, elephant society on many smaller reserves has broken down. Recent neurobiological evidence has shown that the elephant and human brains are very similar, especially the limbic system, the seat of emotions. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a reality in a society of individuals that have gone through severe trauma and whose natural social structure has totally been disrupted.
ESAG will endeavour to promote the restoration of natural societies and habitats, be it through promoting corridors, creation of refuge areas, public awareness and advise on stress related issues.
To provide information on the latest elephant research, literature and legislation
Most people not affiliated to a University have difficulties in obtaining latest research results. To this end ESAG will host a reference list and supply online links to literature.
Although legislations by Government are published, many owners are not aware of the implications of these. ESAG will assist with providing this information and encouraging the elephant owners to comply with these.
To liase with Provincial and Government conservation authorities on elephant matters and assist them where necessary
Conservation authorities do not always have elephant experts in their departments. ESAG aims to assist Government bodies in evaluating submitted elephant management plans in accordance with the Norms & Standards, as well as any other elephant related issues. It is our aim to eventually obtain accreditation from National body. This will allow a more meaningful way forward.
To host a database on all wild elephants in South Africa
Formation and upkeep of an elephant database will provide valuable information on numbers, demography and trends, as well as a baseline to identify problem areas and make recommendations for management interventions and for future research priorities. It will allow us to keep track of elephants in the country and be valuable for any possible future country-wide management plan (see 6). The database will be handled strictly confidentially with no information disclosed to the general public. Data for scientific research will only be handed out with the written permission of the owner and following a written proposal and adherence to strict regulations set out by ESAG.
To identify research priorities and problem areas for future research
The database and internet forum will reveal problem areas and topics important for further investigation. Studies can either be carried out by ESAG members or topics provided to other interested scientists or institutions.
Long-term objective: To participate with Provincial and Government conservation authorities as stakeholders in developing regulations and establishing a management plan for elephants for South Africa
As important stakeholder ESAG will aim to be part of any future regulations, such as the Norms and Standards.
To date there has been no overall management plan for elephants within SA. Legislation allows for the private sector to submit such. This will include setting up of corridors and looking at meta population management. As new corridors are happening and larger areas are getting linked to each other, such as between TFCA’s, an overall management plan will become necessary. The database will serve as basis for this.