African elephant (Loxodonta africana) select less fragmented landscapes to connect core habitats in human‐dominated landscapes

Tawanda Gara* (Corresponding Author), Tiejun Wang, Timothy Dube, Shadrack Ngene, Kudzai Mpakairi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

African elephants (Loxodonta africana) utilise corridors to access limited resources, that is forage and water scattered across heterogeneous habitats they roam. The existence of small elephant metapopulations depend on the intactness of these corridors to access the scarce resources. Due to the sedentarisation of the previously nomadic Maasai people, elephant corridors have been exposed to increased fragmentation from human-induced activities across the Amboseli ecosystem in Kenya. In this study, we sought to compare the scale of fragmentation between corridors and their immediate landscapes (noncorridors) in the Amboseli ecosystem, Kenya. We used a Brownian Bridge Movement Model (BBMM) to identify corridors used by elephants from global positioning system (GPS) collar data. The scale of fragmentation between corridors and noncorridors was determined using the effective mesh size fragmentation metric (m eff). Our results showed that elephant corridors were significantly less fragmented (Wilcoxon sum rank test: W = 6,121.5, p < 0.05) when compared to the noncorridors. The presence of fragmentation geometries in the corridors remains a major cause of concern for wildlife managers as they have the potential to invade and constrict the existing corridors. Our results underscore the need to extend management of elephant habitats to migration corridors outside protected areas.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12839
Pages (from-to)370-377
Number of pages8
JournalAfrican journal of ecology
Volume59
Issue number2
Early online date15 Dec 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021

Keywords

  • African elephant
  • Brownian Bridge Movement Model
  • corridors
  • grazing resources
  • habitat fragmentation
  • ITC-ISI-JOURNAL-ARTICLE

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