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Connectivity at the Large Carnivore Scale: The Kafue-Zambezi Interface

Lines, Robin Michael (2021) Connectivity at the Large Carnivore Scale: The Kafue-Zambezi Interface. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.87199) (KAR id:87199)


The growth and expansion of human populations and resource demands is driving large scale fragmentation and loss of wildlife habitat, isolating wildlife populations and pushing many species towards extinction at local to global scales.

Attempts to promote connectivity between wildlife managed areas at transboundary scales has been proposed as a solution to negative effects associated with population isolation. Such approaches commonly require the maintenance of wildlife populations throughout human-dominated landscapes subject to various degrees of effective protection.The aims of this study are to (1) assess the status of the large carnivore guild throughout ten wildlife managed areas comprising the Zambian component of Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area between Kafue National Park and the Simalaha Wildlife Recovery Sanctuary on the Zambezi River; (2) model habitat suitability and connectivity in this landscape for Lion, Leopard and Spotted hyena; and (3) develop a site-specific map of human footprint pressure for the landscape and test if it can be used a proxy for determining the occurrence of these three species. And further, explore if there are thresholds in human footprint pressure beyond which species are likely extirpated from wildlife managed areas.Methods included library studies to determine historical status of the large carnivore guild and twenty-six common prey species, spoor tracking in conjunction with qualitative surveys and supplemental data analysis to ascertain species current distribution, remote sensing with ground-truthing to build landcover maps, Maximum Entropy and Current Flow models, and extensive use of Geographic Information Systems.The findings conclude that there have been large scale losses in species assemblages throughout majority of southern wildlife managed areas, including the Simalaha Wildlife Recovery Sanctuary. However, no detectable changes were evident in Kafue National Park and surrounding Game Management Areas. Human activities are limiting habitat suitability and scope for occurrence in central southern areas of the landscape, with the likelihood of a connectivity bottleneck occurring. There is significant overlap in habitat requirements and scope for species movement. Human footprint pressure models appear to demonstrate utility as a proxy measure for occurrence of our large carnivore subset, though require some refinements and supplemental data layers to increase predictive power. Human footprint pressure at the wildlife managed area scale indicates threshold levels at which target species occur or are locally extirpated.Analyses have identified important additions to the existing wildlife managed area network in Open communal land that could provide valuable habitat and connectivity for target species given effective management and finance, including containment of negative human disturbance variables modelled (agro-pastoralist activities and infrastructure development). The effects of poaching are also hypothesized to be a significant driver limiting species persistence.Continued expansion of human population, settlement and agro-pastoralist activities will limit scope for expansion of large carnivores and their principle prey throughout the Kafue-Zambezi interface, effectively severing connectivity and isolating the Greater Kafue System from adjacent wildlife managed areas in the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area.Narratives surrounding the development of wildlife-based land uses and species-level connectivity benefit from the application of conservation science and generation of empirical data to guide management.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Tzanopoulos, Joseph
Thesis advisor: MacMillan, Douglas
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.87199
Uncontrolled keywords: Large Carnivores, Conservation, Landscape Connectivity, Kavango-Zambezi, Transfrontier Conservation Areas
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Funders: Organisations -1 not found.
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 18 Mar 2021 11:10 UTC
Last Modified: 15 Dec 2022 11:41 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Lines, Robin Michael.

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