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How do African ElephantsUtilize the Landscape DuringWet Season?: A Habitat Connectivity Analysis for Sioma Ngwezi Landscape in Zambia
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography.
2019 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 30 credits / 45 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

How environmental factors influence distribution and persistence of African elephants(Loxodonta africana) is pertinent to policy makers and managers to formulate balanced plansfor different landuse types (i.e. wildlife management, forestry). The study focuses on movementof elephants and how they utilize foraging areas in Sioma Ngwezi landscape in Zambia. Theanalysis was based on telemetry data (global position system radio collars) acquired from 8elephants (5 matriarchs and 3 bulls) between February and July in 2018. The followingenvironmental variables were analysed; land cover, topographic wetness index, normalizeddifference vegetation index, proximity to roads and proximity to settlements. MaximumEntropy (MaxEnt) and linkage mapper were the novel tools used to predict habitat suitability,movement corridors and barriers in the landscape during the wet season. Landscapepermeability and habitat suitability were explored by using resistance raster. The studyidentified elevation, land cover and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) as themost important environmental predictors that modifies the dispersal of elephants in thelandscape during the wet season. Additionally, a total of 36 potential wet season corridors wereidentified connecting 15 core areas mainly used for foraging and protection from poachers inthe landscape. Of these, 24 corridors were highly utilized and are suggested as priority corridorsfor elephant movement in the landscape. The identified wet season habitats and functionalcorridors may help to combat elephant poaching by patrolling areas with high relativeprobability of elephant presence. The findings may also help abate human elephant conflictsuch as crop raiding by managing identified corridors that run into agriculture zones in the gamemanagement area. Finally, management of these corridors has massive potential to increasemovement of elephants in the region especially since Sioma landscape is strategically locatedin the Kavango-Zambezi Trans-frontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) connecting thesource (Hwange, Chobe and Bwabwata national parks) and the sink (the Greater Kafue andLuangwa ecosystems) linking elephants from Zambia, Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia and Botswana.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. , p. 33
National Category
Geosciences, Multidisciplinary
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-170700OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-170700DiVA, id: diva2:1337156
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Examiners
Available from: 2019-07-16 Created: 2019-07-11 Last updated: 2019-07-16Bibliographically approved

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