Elephant Database
African Elephant Specialist Group

Data Access and Release Policy of the African Elephant Database


The African Elephant Database (AED) of the IUCN/SSC African ElephantSpecialist Group (AfESG) aims to provide an accurate and objectivecontinent-wide picture on the status and distribution of the Africanelephant, and thus help in developing long-term management andconservation strategies for the species. Data entered into the AfricanElephant Database are obtained through the generous assistance of manygovernments, organizations and individuals from numerous elephantRange States throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

The African Elephant Database comprises a number of distinct components:

  • A set of electronic maps of areas where information on elephantnumbers has been collected throughout the years. These maps arelinked to database tables giving information on the types andresults of surveys, reliability, and other relevant factors.
  • A set of electronic maps depicting elephant distribution. Some ofthe areas depicted in the distribution maps have been formallysurveyed, whereas others have not. Distribution maps are linkedto database tables which give additional information about thenature and reliability of range information.
  • Additional electronic maps depicting ancillary information, suchas protected areas, national boundaries, roads, rivers and relief.Most of these ancillary maps have been obtained from third-partyproviders and do not belong to the AfESG.
  • Supporting documentation for the electronic database.
  • Data in the AED are subject to extensive review by the Data ReviewWorking Group (DRWG) of the AfESG. In addition, digitized dataundergo stringent validation and verification procedures as theyare entered into the AED. These processes lead to the preparationand publication of periodic “status reports,” which summarizeverified information in the full database and which aim toprovide the best interpretation of available data.
  • At any time between the publication of status reports, theelectronic version of the AED is a 'work in progress' and maytherefore include contradictory and/or unverified information.

Objectives and General Policy Statement

The primary objective of this policy is to make the AED as freely andwidely available as possible, while encouraging users of AED data totake account of the limitations of the data in their analyses. It isalso the duty of AfESG, and an objective of this policy, to ensure that:

  • AED data are used for the benefit of elephant conservation in Africa.
  • The wishes of providers of source information who have placed expressrestrictions on the dissemination of their raw data are respected.
  • Any agreements with providers of ancillary GIS information are respected.
  • The integrity of the database is maintained by discouraging thecirculation of multiple modified versions.
  • It is the belief of the AfESG that the above objectives can best beachieved with the following broad policies:
    • Hard copy and 'read-only' electronic versions of the AED are freelyavailable: electronic Status Report can be downloaded from theInternet, and the printed version is available on request, subjectto logistic and financial constraints.
    • Full or partial, editable versions of the updated electronicdatabase will be made available on a controlled basis, withconditions designed to restrict the dissemination of alteredversions and of ancillary data layers that are not the propertyof AfESG, and to encourage people analyzing the data to takeaccount of its limitations.
    • Unless Data Providers have placed restrictions on the circulationof source data, such data will be made available for inspectionupon request, subject to logistic and financial constraints.
  • The above points are for guidance only. The details of this policyare set out in the two sections that follow.


For the purposes of this policy, the following definitions shall apply:

  • African Elephant Database (AED) - An electronic collection of tables,georeferenced maps and any other datasets, digitized by the AfricanElephant Specialist Group and containing information relating toelephant distribution and abundance in the Range States of AfricanElephants. Any data captured or digitized and integrated into the AfricanElephant Database and any views or extracts thereof remain the propertyof the African Elephant Specialist Group.
  • African Elephant Database Source Data – The collection of reports,personal communications, questionnaire replies, publications and anyother form of data or information submitted to the AfESG for inputinto the African Elephant Database.
  • African Elephant Status Report (AESR) – Any of the reports on thestatus and distribution of African elephants produced by the IUCN/SSCAfrican Elephant Specialist Group (generally every three years) in hardcopy and/or read-only electronic format. African Elephant StatusReports, which have been in the past published under the name “AfricanElephant Database”, contain views from the African Elephant Database.
  • Ancillary Datasets – A collection of tables and maps in digital formatand views and extracts thereof produced by third parties and employedin the African Elephant Database.
  • Digital Data Extract – A digital subset data contained in the AfricanElephant Database and/or related digital databases operated by theAfrican Elephant Specialist Group in editable, tabular or graphic,geo-referenced format.
  • View – A snapshot of a subset of data contained in the AfricanElephant Database and/or related digital databases operated by theAfrican Elephant Specialist Group, in a non-georeferenced, rasterizedor non-editable electronic vector format, or in hard copy.

Access to Data from the African Elephant Database

Digital data will be made available to African Elephant Specialist Group(AfESG) members on request, and may be made available to other groups orindividuals provided the conditions detailed below are satisfied.

  1. Access to AED Status Reports.
  2. Access to Views from the African Elephant Database.
  3. Access to Digital Data Extracts from the African Elephant Database.
    1. Any person(s) or group(s) wishing to obtain digital data extractsfrom the AED must submit a proposal to the AfESG Data Review WorkingGroup (DRWG), outlining how the database is to be used and why thedata are required in digital form. Digital data will be released ifthe DRWG considers the release not to violate existing agreements withdata providers, the intended use is not anticipated to be detrimentalto elephant conservation and takes account of the limitations ofdata quality.
    2. The authors, prior to submission, publication or dissemination ofany output containing any views, alterations, manipulations oranalysis of digital data extracted from the African Elephant Database,must submit to the DRWG, for review and comment, a final draft of allmaterials intended for dissemination.
    3. Any alteration to digital data supplied by the AED and intendedfor publication, dissemination or placement in the public domain,must be accompanied by a statement by the author(s), clearlydescribing the nature of any alterations effected on data extractedfrom the African Elephant Database. The author(s) must also submitto the Data Review Working Group the altered dataset in its entiretyfor review, and grant express permission to the AfESG for possibleintegration of the altered data into the African Elephant Database,subject to review and acceptance by the DRWG.
    4. Digital Data Extracts released to any person or group willremain the property of the AfESG and will not be passed on to anythird party
    5. Any AED data used in papers, reports, publications or any otheroutput will be given proper acknowledgement, which will be stipulatedin the users agreement (see number 7).
    6. The AfESG secretariat must be provided with 2 copies of anydocument or output in which data from the AED is used.
    7. An agreement to the standard terms and conditions above must besigned and returned to the AfESG Secretariat before any data will bereleased. Such an agreement will include points 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6listed above.
  4. Access to Source Data. As a custodian of AED Source Data,the AfESG has no rights of ownership or any obligations to theirdissemination, but unless specifically restricted by the DataProvider, will allow their inspection. Any other conditions imposedby the Data Providers on the release of Source Data, views or extractsthereof will be observed.
  5. Access to Ancillary Datasets As an end user of Ancillary Datasets,the AfESG may have no rights to their dissemination, and wherepermitted, their release will be subject to any conditions imposed bythe Data Provider. In all other cases the AfESG will re-direct anyrequests for such datasets to the appropriate data provider.
IUCNSpecies Survival Commission

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