Fencing for human-elephant conflict mitigation: method of an impact assessment using functional connectivity modelling

Ms Liudmila Osipova1, Professor Matt Hayward2, Professor Niko Balkenhol1

1Gottingen University, Gottingen, Germany, 2University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia

Abstract:

In the rapidly changing world where wildlife habitats are being converted into cultivated lands, the demand for methods allowing us to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts is increasing. Fencing is one of the most common methods of solving human-wildlife conflicts. At the same time, fencing is considered one of the most pressing threats emerging in conservation globally. Unrestricted fencing can cause population isolation and fragmentation over time, but it is difficult to quantitatively predict the consequences fences have for wildlife.

Here, we are presenting a methodological framework on how GPS telemetry and remote sensing data can be used for a potential negative impact assessment from fencing. We used a case study from the Borderland between Kenya and Tanzania where 50 km fence was built to mitigate a conflict between African elephants (Loxodonta africana) and Maasai community. A quantitative framework was developed for predicting how the fence may affect landscape connectivity and movement corridors of the African elephants. We demonstrated how accounting for seasonality is an important factor for such assessments and validated the model with aerial counts and on the ground observations.

Our results suggest that fencing will not cause landscape fragmentation or habitats isolation but will lead to a loss of connectivity locally and will increase the potential for human-elephant conflicts in new areas. The results lead to a conclusion on how and why such evaluation is crucial for environmental impact assessments, and if fencing is an appropriate solution for alleviating human-wildlife conflicts in the long-run.


Biography:

I am a PhD candidate at the joint doctorate program between Bangor University, UK and Gottingen University, Germany. I am interested in using Remote Sensing and GIS data analytical frameworks for wildlife conservation and human-wildlife conflicts alleviation. The main focus of my current study is landscape connectivity modelling and movement corridors planning in conservation management

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