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Conservation Partners :: Tarangire Elephant Project (TEP)

Tarangire Elephant Project (TEP)

Status: African Elephant – Vulnerable

Wildlife Conservation Society Logo - Tarangire Elephant ProjectCharles Foley, Ph.D., has been working in the Tarangire National Park in Tanzania, Africa, since 1993. The Tarangire Elephant Project (TEP) was started as part of Dr. Foley’s doctoral thesis study with the Princeton University. The project has grown over the years and is now the second-longest continuous elephant study in Africa. The overall goal of TEP is to ensure the long-term conservation of African Elephants and their habitat in the Tarangire ecosystem, Tanzania.


The principle threat to the long-term sustainability of the Tarangire ecosystem is the loss of migration corridors and dispersal areas outside the national parks. Thousands of animals migrate through these corridors daily and seasonally. These migrations are driven by water availability and variations in the mineral content in the soil. When the ephemeral water in these dispersal areas outside the Park dries up, the wildlife return to the Park. Because of these unusual mineral gradients, access to dispersal areas outside the Park is essential; if the large ungulate species were restricted to Tarangire’s less nutritious grasslands for any lengthy period, their populations eventually would collapse. Lara_Elephants


Tarangire Elephant Project The TEP protects these migration routes by:

  • Creating easements or Certificates of Customary Right of Occupancy (CCRO’s) that formalize community land ownership. These offer protection by allowing the community to create by-laws for specific land use zoning of that area. This prevents private individuals from buying the land, as any changes to the property requires the consent of the entire community. In creating these areas, more of the routes and staging points for wildlife can remain protected against habitat loss.
  • Village game scouts help monitor wildlife numbers and carry out anti-poaching patrols. A Rapid Response Team also has been established.
  • Collecting data on wildlife trends in the corridors and park space.
  • Studying elephant movements using radio collars.

Why is this group important to the Dallas Zoo?

The migration corridors are not only one of the last major footholds of bio diversity in Africa, they are also the inspiration for our Giants of the Savanna exhibit. Information from Dr. Foley and his team have helped not only the Dallas Zoo, but other institutions better understand movement of large wildlife. This understanding has led to the development of larger, more functional habitats.

Charles Foley at ZooThe Dallas Zoo has teamed up with Dr. Charles Foley, who started the Tarangire Elephant Project (TEP) in Tanzania in 1993 as a doctoral thesis study at Princeton University. A significant portion of the TEP focuses on elephant family groups and migration routes.

These migration corridors were factored in during the design of the Giants of the Savanna, thus providing multiple pathways for the animals to travel within the flexible habitat. With such a design, the pachyderms could walk up and down hills and reach into niches for surprise treats in order to exercise their bodies and trunks and better utilize the acreage given to them. In his return visit to the Dallas Zoo in 2011following the opening of Giants of the Savanna, Dr. Foley noted that the elephant behaviors witnessed at the exhibit are like those he sees in the wild.