The Amboseli Elephant Research Project is world’s longest study of elephants and forms an unparalleled body of knowledge on the life-history and behavior of African elephants. Since 1972, intimate details of the lives of the Amboseli elephants have been decribed. Documented in scores of peer reviewed publications, through popular books and articles and through the media, the Amboseli elephants are the most celebrated elephants in the world.
The best-known free-ranging elephant population
Amboseli's some 1,200 elephants (2011 figure, down from 1,600 in 2008 due to severe drought and poaching) include 58 families and close to 300 independent adult males. Each individual has been named, numbered, or coded and can be recognized individually. There are photographic recognition cards of every adult and of most juveniles over seven years old. Younger calves can be recognized in the context of their families. This degree of recognition makes the Amboseli elephants the best-known free-ranging population in the world.
For almost four decades the elephants of Amboseli were spared the widespread scourge of ivory poaching. It was one of the few populations in which animals span the whole age range from newborn calves to wise old matriarchs in their late 60s, and more unusual, many large bulls in their 40s, 50s and even 60s. In 2009, poaching started to increase, threatening this relatively small population important to Kenya and to the entire world. The images below are drawn from ElephantVoices Photo Database, The beauty of the Amboseli elephants.
All photos ©ElephantVoices
Amboseli source of baseline data
In many parts of Africa poaching has destroyed the social fabric of elephant life by killing the older, larger breeding males and the older females, who are the repositories of social and ecological knowledge.
Amboseli is an important source of baseline data on elephant social and reproductive patterns and is used as a model for assessing the status of other elephant populations in Africa and even in Asia.
Echo of the elephants
Echo, the Matriarch of the primary group we observed during our comprehensive and years long communication study, died Sunday 3 May 2009. In her honor, we have put together, on a separate page, some images and vocalizations of this world renown elephant.