Identifying wild buffalo corridors using GIS approaches

Mr Adrish Poddar1, Ms Poonam Chandel1, Dr Rajendra Prasad Mishra1, Dr Rahul Kaul1

1Wildlife Trust Of India, National Capital Region, India

Developments in remote sensing technology have allowed to predict imminent changes, empirically translate research of a vast geographic scale and prioritise species conservation actions. Human pressure often compels and confines animals into resource-limited ‘islands’. As these ‘islands’ saturates, animals tend to occupy (and eventually colonise) newer contiguous patches. Landscape connectivity through corridors, linkages, or stepping-stones, is essential in planning species recovery. Our study focused on threatened wild buffaloes in Udanti-Sitanadi landscape, Chhattisgarh. Study used empirical approaches to, enumerate availability of suitable habitats for wild buffalo; index permeability between Udanti-Sitanadi; quantify decadal change in land-use impinging the modelled ‘corridor’.

Three predictor variable set were chosen to index relative suitability of habitats using maximum entropy approach (Maxent 3.4.0, ArcGIS 10.4.1). All-season animal occurrence locations of four free-ranging buffalo were used for modelling. Resultant ‘studyscape’ map with relative suitability scores was used in Circuitscape 4.0, to model the pathways connecting Udanti with Sitanadi. Trend of land-use impinging the corridor was quantified and delineated comparing imageries from two different temporal scales. Prediction accuracy of resulting map was validated using historically known ranging patterns.

For migrating, seasonal or permanent, animals tend to choose ‘corridors’ offering shortest path, security and food. Our study indicated buffaloes’ high affinity to water and aversion to roadways. Of the two prominent corridors predicted by Circuitscape, only one 14-km corridor aligned with the suitable habitats. Areas impinging the habitat and showing higher trend of conversion (874.1-hectares) were demarcated to direct policy and restorative actions.


Biography:

Adrish has been working with wildlife research and conservation since 2011. He holds a 4-year B. Tech degree in Biotechnology and a 2-year M. Phil Degree in Environmental Sciences.

In 2013, Adrish joined WTI family provisionally to ground truth Elephant corridors. Since then he handled conservation projects from Western Himayalas to North-eastern Himalayas to Central India.  If not occupied with work, he prefers to spend time outdoors observing nature through a lens or just hiking around.

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