by Staff Writers
Davis CA (SPX) Nov 10, 2017
Researchers at the University of California, Davis, have identified 52 potential wildlife corridors linking protected areas across Tanzania. Using a cost-effective combination of interviews with local residents and a land conversion dataset for East Africa, they found an additional 23 corridors over those previously identified by Tanzanian government reports.
According to their publication in the journal PLOS ONE, nearly a sixth of all the wildlife corridors previously identified in Tanzania in 2009 potentially have been separated by land conversion, and a third now pass across lands likely to be converted to human use in the near future.
The results show that structural wildlife corridors still connect protected areas from east to west across the nation to some degree. But no open wildlife corridors remain to link protected areas between northern and southern Tanzania, and two reserves - Gombe Stream National Park and Pande Game Reserve - are completely isolated from all others in the country.
Crucial Stepping Stones
"While most people will never have heard of these small reserves, they are absolutely vital for linking larger parks," said lead author Jason Riggio, a UC Davis graduate student in the Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology.
Globally, land conversion and habitat degradation are driving wildlife losses, so populations are increasingly restricted to reserves isolated by agriculture and urbanization. Wildlife populations that lack connectivity to other protected areas can quickly suffer from inbreeding and reduced opportunities for range shifts tracking global climate change.
"The long-term viability of wildlife species relies on maintaining connectivity between protected areas," Riggio said. "Large-scale conservation corridors can serve as essential linkages between habitats."
Finding Wildlife Corridors
Another way is to use GPS and/or VHF-collars fitted to animals. This is often cost-prohibitive and limited to local or regional scales. The study's researchers note that as connectivity between protected areas rapidly erodes, novel methods must be developed quickly and cheaply to assess where wildlife corridors still exist.
"Interviews with people living within or adjacent to wildlife corridors can provide accurate information on wildlife movements that can be obtained fairly easily," said Tim Caro, co-author on the paper and a professor in the UC Davis Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology. "These data can then be used to validate connectivity models."
Tanzania An Ideal Test Case
The findings indicate that there might be a far greater potential for large mammals to move between protected areas in Tanzania than was previously supposed. But more research is required to know whether or not mammals use these corridors.
A key remaining question is which large mammal species move through agricultural areas or, more specifically, which species traverse which sorts of converted land and over what distances.
"Our method of modeling landscape connectivity using spatial data on anthropogenic land conversion, combined with interviews to validate these models is readily applicable to other regions," said Caro. "We need to identify wildlife corridors very rapidly before they disappear."
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The maiden mission of a counterterrorism force that aims to tackle jihadist groups in the troubled Sahel experienced "logistical problems" but they are not "insurmountable", according to the military's first appraisal of the operation. The G5 Sahel force - an initiative comprising Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger - last week began its first operation, dubbed Hawbi, with Frenc ... read more
University of California - Davis
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