Overlapping landscape utilization by elephants and people in the Western Okavango Panhandle: implications for conflict and conservation
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© 2019, Springer Nature B.V. Context: Many wildlife populations exist outside of protected areas, and it is necessary to understand how these animals use a landscape mosaic that includes humans. Patterns of landscape use in space and time can help inform strategies to mitigate negative interactions between people and wildlife. Objectives: We aimed to estimate the landscape utilization of elephants where they ranged through a mosaic of human-modified land-use and undisturbed habitat to better understand spatial implications for human-wildlife interactions. Methods: We studied locations and utilization distributions of ten bull elephants in the Western Okavango Panhandle region of Botswana. We calculated utilization distributions, patterns of landscape use, and daily movement relative to permanent water and human land-use. Results: The annual distributions of the monitored elephants ranged from 1220 to 3446 km2 and showed seasonal variation, with wet season distributions being significantly larger than dry season distributions. On average 49.4% of elephants’ core distributions in the dry season and 12.3% in the wet season fell within 5 km of human land-use. Elephants ranged increasingly farther from permanent water sources as the wet season progressed, while in the same time frame elephants moved closer on average to human land-use. Elephants were more likely to be near human land-use during the night than they were during the day. Diel patterns of elephant proximity to human land-use did not match patterns of proximity to water. Conclusions: Conservation and management efforts must consider the diel and seasonal patterns of elephant movement in order to fully address the issue of human-elephant interactions.
author list (cited authors)
Buchholtz, E., Fitzgerald, L., Songhurst, A., McCulloch, G., & Stronza, A.