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Understanding how land-use change in the Trans Mara District, Kenya is driving human-elephant conflict and elephant movement

Tiller, Lydia Natalie (2017) Understanding how land-use change in the Trans Mara District, Kenya is driving human-elephant conflict and elephant movement. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,.

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Abstract

Human-wildlife conflict is a global problem, due to habitat destruction and fragmentation, and it severely impacts the livelihoods of people and leads to the persecution and retributive killing of wildlife. In Kenya, human-elephant conflict is one of the most serious and challenging conservation issues. To successfully reduce conflict, management strategies and land-use planning must be informed and underpinned by robust evidence-based research. This thesis focused on understanding how land-use patterns and change in the Trans Mara District, Kenya, is driving human-elephant conflict and elephant movement. The aims of this thesis are to: (1) determine the implications of agricultural expansion on human-elephant conflict; (2) understand the seasonal, temporal and spatial drivers of crop raiding over time; and (3) investigate elephant pathway use and their role in human-elephant conflict. Methods used included risk mapping, landcover change scenario modelling, human-elephant conflict monitoring, fine scale spatial analysis of crop raiding using Generalised Additive Models, camera trapping, elephant sign surveys, qualitative focus groups and quantitative household surveys.

The findings from this thesis show that the extent of agriculture land in the Trans Mara has increased by 42.5% between 2000 and 2015 and scenario modelling suggests that even with high future deforestation levels, large areas will remain susceptible to elephant crop raiding. The results also indicate that temporal, seasonal and spatial conflict trends are becoming less predictable, as crop raiding occurs throughout the year and affects crops at all stages of growth. This crop raiding has increased in frequency by 49% since 1999-2000 but has decreased in damage per incident by 83%, and increasingly involves a new group type consisting of elephant family units plus bulls. Results from this thesis also show that elephants used pathways between the Trans Mara and Masai Mara National Reserve at night, and that elephants preferred paths that had a high percentage of forest cover and were closer to farms, saltlicks and forest in the Trans Mara. In light of changing patterns of human-elephant conflict and landcover, land-use planning is crucial to balance the needs of humans and wildlife.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Smith, Robert
Thesis advisor: Humle, Tatyana
Uncontrolled keywords: Land-use change, Human-Wildlife Conflict, Human-Elephant Conflict, Kenya, African elephant (Loxodonta africana)
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 06 Nov 2018 14:10 UTC
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2019 10:44 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/69955 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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