ZIAMA (Rep of Guinea)
Location: Ziama Massif Biosphere Reserve
Forest elephant population: Census required
Number of rangers: 60
Boots on the Ground Ziama 2018: Boots; socks; backpackers; and flashlights.
Boots on the Ground Ziama 2019: Camera traps, GPS units, Tents and Camping Mats.
Collaring forest elephants 2022: Collaring two forest elephants to reduce human-elephant conflict.
Current projects: Guinea Forest Elephants 2023 – 2025: Emergency fund, law enforcement training, education, monitoring, collaring forest elephants.
The Ziama Forest Habitat
The Ziama Forest is a remote and vital tropical forest ecosystem in mountainous highlands of south-eastern Guinea and extends across the border to Liberia. Renowned for its incredibly high levels of biodiversity, boasting more than 1,300 species of plants and more than 500 animal species, the Ziama Forest ecosystem boasts pristine and dense primary and secondary mountain forest. Due to this richness of the ecosystem it is home to a great number of Africa’s threatened mammal species, including chimpanzees and the only viable forest elephant population in Guinea – a crucial population of approximately 200 forest elephants remaining.
Guinea is the source of 22 West African rivers, including the Niger, Gambia, and Senegal Rivers. Protecting the forests that act as watersheds for these rivers is crucial for the health of wildlife and humans alike.
The south of Guinea contains important remnants of the Upper Guinean forest that used to cover the entire region of West Africa. The biodiversity under the lush forest canopy is stunning – elephants, chimpanzees and many more endangered species, including 22 species protected by CITES, all rely on this unique habitat.
The forest elephants in Ziama are the last remaining forest elephants in the Republic of Guinea. The rangers on the ground are the elephant’s last hope of survival in a region where resource extraction takes priority and poaching is rife. Protecting this group of forest elephants will be vital for the genetic biodiversity of forest elephant populations in the future.
In addition, it is now accepted that forest elephants play a vital role in seed dispersal. Forest elephants disperse seeds over much larger distances than any other vertebrate dispersers moving over 80% of seeds over 1km from the parent tree and consistently moving seeds over 5km. The extinction of forest elephants will drastically, if not totally, affect tree seed dispersal and thus the forest habitat across Central and West Africa.
Guinea's last forest elephants
Boots on the Ground
The main objective of this ongoing campaign is to equip the rangers of Ziama in Guinea (West Africa) with high quality equipment to ensure that they are able to conduct their daily duties safely and effectively, thus ensuring the protection of Ziama’s last forest elephants, as well as their habitat.
The African Forest Elephant Foundation successfully delivered boots, socks, backpacks and solar rechargeable flashlights to a group of 30 rangers protecting Guinea’s last forest elephants.
In collaboration with our project partners additional equipment was identified to further improve anti-poaching and bio-monitoring efforts on the ground.
AFEF has donated high quality camera traps, GPS units and camping equipment to enable rangers to both conduct longer multi-day anti-poaching patrols and more effective forest elephant bio-monitoring.
Find out more HERE
Guinea Forest Elephants 2023 – 2025: This project aims to establish an emergency fund to respond to emergencies; poaching or human-elephant conflict, provide law enforcement training to key stakeholders (e.g.,judges, lawyers, police, crime investigators, customs officials), education for the local community, monitoring and collaring forest elephants.
Through radio collaring, the project is able to track the movements of the forest elephants and learn more about their behaviour. This Learn more about the amazing projects of Forestelephants.org to help both forest elephants and the people living in their environment.
In collaboration with Fauna & Flora International, two African forest elephants have been successfully fitted with satellite collars to help monitor their movements and aid conservation.
It is thought to be the first time that forest elephants have been collared in Guinea and Liberia and represents a significant boost for efforts to protect the species.
Both individuals belong to a small and unique population of forest elephants that are known to roam across the borders of Guinea and Liberia, in an area known as the Ziama Massif ecosystem, as well as into neighbouring Côte d’Ivoire.
Radio collars provide a new method of remote tracking, providing regular information about the location of the elephants. This could prove invaluable, providing an early warning system for farmers who live within the elephants’ home range.
Forest elephants often eat and damage crops, this behaviour can bring them into conflict with people.
Although forest elephant populations have been severely reduced by poaching for the ivory trade, human-wildlife conflict has also been a major factor in their decreasing numbers, as human populations expand into the forest, so animal habitats have shrunk.
Working with local communities, AFEF and its partners are helping to find methods to reduce this conflict with wildlife.
It is vitally important to manage and prevent these conflicts, it’s also important gain a deeper understanding of what is driving these conflicts and why and how frequently elephants are visiting communities and human dwellings.
Possible causes of conflict:
1. Increasingly scarce resources in forest areas, can cause elephants to move out of their habitat.
2. Human crops, which are more nutritionally dense than wild vegetation are very attractive to wild elephants.
Fitting GPS-enabled collars on wild elephants helps us to better understand the elephants’ basic movements and behaviour.
Collaring is an intensive business. Once a suitable individual is identified (most often an adult elephant), the animal is then darted with a sedative. Depending on the animals age, size etc, this can take around 20 minutes. A collar is then fitted around the elephant’s neck. Once fitted, the elephant can be revived and released. The GPS signal from the collar will relay information on the elephant’s movements. This data van then be used to help effectively manage the human-elephant conflicts, working towards protecting the areas predominenetly used by these magnificent animals.
The elephant collars will help to provide indent and frequent information of the location of the elephants. Longterm, through geofencing, which uses the Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite network to create virtual boundaries, elephants’ movements near to human habitation will inform communities which farms require protection and surveillance.
Geofencing will send alerts, allowing communities to be informed of the presence of the elephants, this will help to keep not only humans and their crops, but also the elephants, safe.
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