PS 74-16 - Can predicting the movement and assemblage patterns of large herbivores in southern Africa reduce human-wildlife-conflict and help us benefit from ecosystem services

Friday, August 12, 2011
Exhibit Hall 3, Austin Convention Center
Kina R. Murphy, MSC03 2020, Univerrsity of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

Large African herbivores continue to decline as result of habitat fragmentation associated with land-use change and lack of movement corridors that provide access to wet and dry season habitats. This exacerbates human-wildlife-conflict and wildlife losses increase. Yet, large herbivores provide a myriad of ecosystem services that benefit human landscapes. If humans can live with large native herbivores we can begin to benefit from the services they provide instead of employing agricultural methods that degrade ecosystems. This study seeks to determine if we can predict when and where human-wildlife-conflict is likely occur, based on the daily movements of 14 herbivores to and from the Chobe Riverfront and wetlands in Botswana.


While human-wildlife-conflict has been associated with the seasonal movements of these species, this study sheds light on how their daily movements may be more directly correlated with conflict incidents. To examine these patterns, transects were driven over 179 kilometer of riverfront and wetlands with 11 perpendicular transects running away from the river and four sets of two transects situated parallel to the river. All transects were driven two times a day: morning 6 am-1 pm, and afternoon 1pm -6 pm, on different days. This was done for one year, six times in each season. Each species and the number of individuals observed while driving 1-10 km per hour, was recorded along with: species distance from the transect and water, temperature, time of day, and nearest habitat association. Distances were measured using a laser range finder and the exact angle from the transect was recorded. Habitat associations were created using 100 m2 plots along transects. All data was then entered into a GIS database and mapped. 


The data suggest that species do access the river at specific times of day; that those times vary depending on season; and that river morphology is directly correlated with species diversity and abundance. Peak movements during the hot, dry season are between 9:00 and 10:00 am and 4:00 and 6:00 pm. These time intervals represent the periods prior to and preceeding daily temperature highs. The pattern is similar during the cold dry season with varied small peaks throughout the day and a drastic peak between 3:00 and 5:00 pm. The GIS maps depicting these patterns can assist: conservation professional in delineating wildlife movement corridors; local farmers in deciding when to plant and where to place crops; and ranchers in deciding where to graze livestock.

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