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Amboseli Trust for Elephants


The Amboseli Trust for Elephants aims to ensure the long-term conservation and welfare of Africa’s elephants in the context of human needs and pressures through scientific research, training, community outreach, public awareness and advocacy.


ATE’s research arm, the Amboseli Elephant Research Project, has made many important contributions to elephant research over the years. The knowledge gained from the AERP team has profoundly altered the way we think about, conserve and manage elephant populations. Our research has highlighted the ethical implications of dealing with sentient, long-lived, intelligent and social complex animals and our knowledge base provides powerful and authoritative support to elephant conservation and advocacy campaigns worldwide. For more than four decades AERP’s presence has helped ensure the survival of the elephants as well as the Amboseli ecosystem.

AERP research covers many areas including: social organization, behavior, demography, ecological dynamics, spatial analyses and mapping, communication, genetics, human-elephant interactions and cognition. Our long-term datasets underpin all these research topics.

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Core research

Our team of Maasai research assistants and visiting scientists are in the field at least six days a week. We record all demographic events in the population; births and deaths, musth, oestrus and mating. Our routine daily observations note associations between family units and independent males, geographic location, group size, composition, activity and habitat type. Within families we monitor female affiliation and the dispersal of young males from their family to analyze family dynamics. We have systematically monitored the size and growth of over 600 individuals from 1976 to the present. Since 1999 we have collected dung samples for genetic analyses of population origins, paternity and within- and between-family relatedness. We are constantly maintaining and updating our individual records, and we also carry out basic ecological monitoring through vegetation plots, water table measurements and rainfall.

Collaborative Research Projects

ATE hosts visiting researchers who contribute to the growing understanding of African elephants in general, and the knowledge base for the sustained future of the Amboseli population in particular.

Researchers interested in collaborating with ATE should address their enquiries to our Director of Science, Prof. Phyllis Lee ( ATE has always enjoyed a dynamic collaboration network and we welcome the opportunity for new partnerships to continue that tradition. Our collaborations extend across many subject areas:


Communication is the glue that binds the social network of an intelligent species. Joyce Poole and Petter Granli recorded and analyzed Amboseli elephant vocalizations as part of the work of their NGO ElephantVoices. Their aim is to build our scientific understanding of the intelligence and social complexity of elephants and enhance the toolbox for their conservation and management. At the same time they act as a voice for elephants ... Continue Reading