A dung density assessment was used as an index to calculate elephant density in 2014. The ecosystem was divided into four vegetation types; cloud forest, dry forest, shrub-land and wetland. Twenty six (1km long) transects were established and used to collect data on elephant dung and record presence of other mammals. There was an elephant density of 0.73elephants/km2, translating to 100±16 elephants with a range of 72 to 139 elephants at 95% confidence interval. Cloud forest and dry forest vegetation types supported a higher elephant density, with dung densities of 4792±1550 piles/km2 and 2409±471 piles/km2 for cloud and dry forest vegetation types respectively.
There was a total sampling effort of about 24 kilometers, covered in 23.92 hours. Some transects were not covered to completion as initially intended mainly due to terrain. The transects were sampled in the period 7th to 25th July, 2014, where 274 elephant dung piles were encountered. Most of the dung piles lay in the decay classes S4 and S2, constituting 30.4%, n=83 and 26.0%, n=71, of the total dung encounters. For analysis of density, we used 148 dung piles, those below class S4 decay stage. The Effective Strip Width (ESW) for elephant dung survey in MFE was about 206cm, ranging from 174 to 245cm at 95% C.I.
The dung density survey followed the method described by McClanahan 1986, and Barnes & Jensen.,1987. The documented values of dung defecation by Barnes & Jensen, 1987 and decay rates by Kamweya et al., 2012 was used.
A pilot survey was undertaken to determine the total adequate length for transects as means to establish elephant population estimates.
Elephant dung density for MFE was estimated to be approximately 17059±279piles/km2. (The corresponding table 1 states overall dung density as 1705).
Source:Kiambi, S., Andanje, S., Maloba, M., Mungai, P., Edebe, J., Muteti, D., … Muhati, G. (n.d.). Elephant and other large mammal dry season survey for Marsabit Forest Ecosystem, Kenya.