Elephant Ecology Project
Dominique Goncalves is the manager of the Elephant Ecology Project at Goronogsa National Park - She studied with Joyce Poole, one of the worlds leading experts on elephant behaviour, and is currently studying for the Ph. D. Here, she talks about Gorongosa and her hopes for the future.
I think Gorongosa is a very special place. Not only because of the diversity of ecosystems we have here, but also because of the diversity of species ... We even have rainforest on the mountain, this is very special, it is our only tropical forest, for example. We have here species that only exist in Gorongosa, and nowhere else, not even in Africa.
As a conservation ecologist I am interested in the area of ecosystem management and a species. The management and conservation of systems and ecosystems.
Elephants and Ecosystems
I think that elephants play a very important role in the ecosystem, especially in the ecosystem structure, their decisions, the decisions the elephant makes in habitat choice, how to use the habitat, whether it is for feeding or only for refuge, what they do in the habitat, the dynamics, their movements, all this changes the ecosystem in a very big way.
The elephant not only plays a very important role in the ecosystem, because of being a key species. Elephants are completely extraordinary animals because of their social complexity, intelligence, memory. So, all this to me is very fascinating. That's why I've been studying elephants so far.
The scientific program of the Gorongosa National Park is fascinating and opens many doors for not only foreigners in science but also young Mozambicans who have an interest in going to work with science. As a Mozambican, I feel very honored and happy to be part of this program, to be part of this process of restoration of one of our greatest riches that is the Gorongosa National Park.
Human Wildlife Coexistance
Well, the conflict between humans, communities and wildlife, elephants or any other animal, does not just happen here in the Park. It takes a lot of work, but I am optimistic, and I believe it's the thing that can save this species, the African elephant. Coexistence is one of the key things. The solution is coexistence.
Human Development and Coexistance
I believe, and it's been said a long time ago that conservation had to include communities, or people, or locals. The old model of conservation was people outside, but Gorongosa now brings a new model. What good to have our elephants, lions and all wildlife and habitats well, if people to the around are not happy?
I hope ... I have many hopes, I really hope that the Girls' Glub, all the girls that are in this club, can fulfill their dreams, I have seen many saying they want to be scientists, to work with lions, work with elephants.
Every girl has a dream, ... and I also hope we can help them, so that they can help the ones that come next, and they can do what I am doing. Give inspiration, show it is possible, and be a role model.