Elephant Research in the Timbavati

By Warren Moore on April 2, 2008

Timbavati Private Nature Reserve is the location to a wonderful project headed up Drs Steve and Michelle Henley. For the last five years, Steve and Michelle and their team have spent thousands of hours following and studying African Elephants in their natural habitat. Their project “Save the Elephants” in the Timabavti and surrounding areas forms part of a larger study that is spread throughout Africa…

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Their mission is as follows:
Our mission is to secure a future for elephants and to sustain the beauty and ecological integrity of the places where they live; to promote man‘s delight in their intelligence and the diversity of their world, and to develop a tolerant relationship between the two species.

The charity was founded in 1993 by Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton, President & Chief Executive Officer, STE, who made a pioneering study of elephant behaviour in the late ’60s in Lake Manyara National Park, Tanzania, and has worked on elephant status Africa-wide since. Explorers, conservationists and elephant scientists serve as fellow trustees or advisors to the board.

Over the last few years, a number of male and female elephants have been fitted with satelite tracking devices that allow the team to track and follow the movement of these great animals through the bush. Two of the more famous study animals, “Mac” and “Classic” have already provided Steve and Michelle with unique information that is changing the way we look at elephants today. “Mac” covers a home range area that exceeds 5000 square kilometers and from his movements it has shown us that he moves to certain areas at certian times of the year for a specific reason.
This project has provided guests visiting Kings Camp, the once in a life time opportunity of accompanying the research team when elephants are collared in the Reserve.

“Save the Elephants” have their own dedicated website,

It will be while worth your while spending some time to go into the site to see the wonderful work that is being done on these most amazing animals.

To see the work done here in the Timbavati region, click on “regions” and then select “Southern Africa”.

One thought on “Elephant Research in the Timbavati

  1. I was recently at a fundraiser for a new elephant habitat at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo (Cleveland, Ohio, USA). The zoo currently has 3 elephants, the youngest at 42 years old. The new habitat will house up to 12. An exciting project to be sure. I suppose zoos are important to learn about animals so we can better protect their populations, but I have to admit I had ambivalent feelings about watching the elephant-keeper give them treats for "tricks". The keeper got a little angry with me when I asked about the tricks, and indicated that they were not tricks, but rather taught behaviors so the zookeepers could be sure they were healthy. OK, but it’s still rather difficult to see these majestic and intelligent creatures in a man-made habitat rather than the wild they were born into. Patrick’s drives into the bush and knowledge of animal behavior are no substitute for viewing any wild animal in a zoo!

    Cleveland Metroparks Zoo ( is involved with conservation and science to improve the management of African elephants – in Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana and Namibia – and I’m encouraged that zoos really are places where a greater understanding of animal behavior can occur.

    I’m so much looking forward to a future visit to King’s Camp! Kathy

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