Ongoing AERU projects collect information on captive elephants based at KEP and sister facilities. This includes records of biological, anatomical, veterinary, physiological, behavioural and dietary data for each individual animal in its care. AERU researchers and volunteers collect these data, not only to establish baseline values for all elephants, but also to co-ordinate and assimilate multidisciplinary research on the behaviour, ecology, anatomy and physiology of these large mammals.
Research Studies & Collaborations
Investigating the role of tourism as a potential stressor to a captive population of African elephant, Loxodonta africana, using specific behavioural interactions and faecal glucocorticoid metabolites.
~ Kelly Mealor, Honours Thesis, Department of Botany and Zoology, University of Stellenbosch, 2011
Determining systemic arterial pressure in semi-wild Loxodonta africana using a Cardell Multi-parameter monitor.
~ Whitney Phipps, Carissa Wood, Kirk Suedmeyer, Deborah Fine, University of Missouri, College of Veterinary Medicine, 2011. View the presentation
Controlled versus free-range – the influence of tourism activities on the behaviour of elephants at the Knysna Elephant Park, South Africa.
~ Lucia Silva. University of Cordoba, Spain, 2012
The relationship between behaviour and FGM’s in an African elephant during a translocation event.
~ Stephan Zander, University of Potsdam, Germany, 2012
How does the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) influence plant diversity at Knysna Elephant Park.
~ Kathrin Schmitt and Johanna Mettler, Master’s Thesis, Munich University of Technology, 2012
Social structure and interaction patterns in a captive herd of African elephants and the influence of tourism.
~ Cornelia Hebrank, Bachelors Thesis, Munich University of Technology, 2013
Behavioural changes in juvenile elephants – the influence of age, environment and tourism.
~ Alex Sancho, Master’s Thesis, University of Barcelona, Spain, 2013
The effectiveness of intrinsic enrichments in reducing stereotypic behaviour in African elephants.
~ Sophie Johnson, Master’s Thesis, University of Exeter, UK, 2013
Free versus protected contact management: The influence of two different management techniques on the behaviour of two semi-captive African bull elephants (Loxodonta africana).
~ Mieke de Kreij, University of Applied Sciences, Van Hall Larenstein, Netherlands, 2013
The use of cognitive bias technique to investigate emotional states in African elephant (Loxodonta africana).
~ Lenka Feilhauerova, Master’s Thesis, University of Exeter, UK, 2013
Social interactions and play behaviour of juvenile African elephants (Loxodonta africana) in captivity.
~ Lisa Weidner, F1-internship report, University of Wuerzburg, Germany, 2013
Music for elephants – does auditory stimulation in the form of classical music and recorded sounds have any influence on stereotypical behaviour in African elephants?
~ Brooke Reilly, Master of Animal Science, University of Queensland, Australia, 2015
The welfare of African elephants in relation to modern day tourist practices.
~ Petra Boelhouwers, Master’s Thesis, University of Exeter, UK, 2013
Zoogeomorphological impacts by elephants in private game reserves: Case study of Knysna Elephant Park, South Africa.
~ Cecelia Engvall, Uppsala University, Sweden, 2014
An investigation into the effects of enclosure size and social access on species typical behaviour in African elephants (Loxodonta africana).
~ Sarah Grayson, Master’s thesis, University of Exeter, UK, 2014
Welfare at night: A new management solution to increase the welfare of captive African elephants (Loxodonta africana).
~ Simon Hendry, Master’s thesis, University of Exeter, UK, 2014
Gender dependent differences in social context vocalisations in captive African elephants (Loxodonta africana).
~ Lisa Weidner, Master’s thesis, Department of Cognitive Biology, University of Vienna, Austria, 2015
A first time assessment of yawning in African elephants: Relationships with age, size, social standing and sleeping behaviour.
~ Zoe Rossman, Ben and Lynette Hart, University of Davis, California, 2015. Read the publication
Is affiliative behaviour affected by tourism?
~ Rebecca Moss. MSc Animal Behaviour, University of Exeter, UK, 2015
Investigation of proximate causes of SDBs. Which tourist activities are associated with higher levels of SDB performance?
~ Hoi-Lam Jim. MSc Animal Behaviour, University of Exeter, UK, 2015
Elephant-initiated interactions with humans: individual differences and specific preferences.
~ Zoe Rossman, Bachelor’s degree. Evolution, Ecology and Biodiversity, University of California, Davis. USA, 2015. Read the publication
Day versus night: Do tourism interactions influence stereotypic behaviour in elephants?
~ Katharine Ommanney, BSc Wildlife Management, Delaware State University, 2015
Long-Term Administration of Haloperidol in an African Elephant (Loxodonta Africana), Suppporting the Therapy of Self-Destructive Stereotypic Behavior.
~ Endre Á. Papp, DVM,* László Garamvölgyi, DVM, 2015 Read the abstract
How fluctuating levels of tourist interactions affect the sleeping behaviours of African elephants (Loxodonta africana).
~ Becka Pragnell, Master’s thesis, University of Exeter, UK, 2016. Read the abstract
Proximate correlates of captive African elephant (Loxodonta africana) self-directed behaviours during tourist interactions.
~ Lindsey Hauff, Master’s thesis, University of Exeter, UK, 2016. Read the abstract
Fertility and aggression control in elephant bulls through GnRH vaccination. (KEP, EOE, AEBS, Shamwari Game Reserve, Inverdoorn Game Reserve).
~ 2011 – Present. Imke Lueders1, Debbie Young, Charlie Gray3, Gerhard van der Horst4, Douw Grobler5, Frank Goeritz6, Thomas B. Hildebrandt6, Cheryl Niemuller7, Henk J Bertschinger8 GEOlifes, Reproductive Research and Animal Fertility, Hamburg, Germany; 2. African Elephant Research Unit, Knysna Elephant Park, Plettenberg Bay, South Africa; 3. African Lion Safari, Cambridge, ON, Canada; 4. University of the Western Cape, Dptm. of Life Sciences, Cape Town, South Africa; 5. Catchco Africa- Wildlife Capture, Pretoria, South Africa; 6. Leibniz Institute of Zoo and Wildlife Research, Reproduction Management, Berlin, Germany; 7. Kingfisher Int., Conservation Biology Laboratories, ON, Canada; 8. University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa. Read the report
The effect of GnRH on behavior and faecal glucocorticoid metabolites in African elephant bulls, with particular emphasis on the welfare aspects of self-directed and/or displacement behaviours.
~ 2011 – Present. Lisa Howard, Imke Lueders1*, Debbie Young2, Charlie Gray3, Gerhard van der Horst4, Henk J Bertschinger8. Read the report
The allometry of African elephant ears (KEP, EOE, AEBS, Buffelsdrift Game Reserve).
~ 2012 – Present. Prof. Joseph Tomkins – University of Western Australia
Optimisation trial study – Dung samples from KEP and Knysna Forest Elephants – viability of hormones at different stages.
~ 2014 – Present. Lizette Moolman; Dr. Andre Ganswindt. South African National Parks; Onderstepoort, University of Pretoria
Reduction of stereotypic behaviour in an African elephant: a case study
~ AERU special project, 2015 – 2017
Daytime and night-time behaviour patterns of African elephants in a free-range captivity model
~ AERU special report, 2014 – 2017