Ecologists and space agencies must forge a global monitoring strategy, say Andrew K. Skidmore, Nathalie Pettorelli and colleagues.

Climate change in Africa is expected to lead to a higher occurrence of severe droughts in semi-arid and arid ecosystems. Understanding how animal populations react to such events is thus crucial for addressing future challenges for wildlife management and conservation. We explored how gender, age, mother's experience and family group characteristics determined calf survival in an elephant population during a severe drought in Tanzania in 1993. Young males were particularly sensitive to the drought and calf loss was higher among young mothers than among more experienced mothers.