Consequences of Land-Use/Land-Cover Dynamics on Range Shift of Cape Buffalo in Western Ethiopia

Mosissa Geleta Erena, Habte Jebessa, Afework Bekele

Abstract


Land-use/land-cover change has significant negative impact on the distribution, range reduction, migratory routes, species-habitat interactions and wildlife habitats. Hence, understanding the impact of land-use/land-cover change on wildlife and their habitats is highly crucial to design appropriate remedial action for sustainable conservation of wildlife. In the present study, Landsat 5 TM, Landsat 7 ETM+ and Landsat 8 OLI (1986, 2001 and 2017) satellite imageries were used to examine land-use/land cover dynamics of the middle Didessa-Dabena Valleys and Jorgo-Wato Protected Forest, and its impact on the distribution and range shift of Cape Buffaloes (Syncerus caffer Sparrman, 1779). In addition, local people’s view about the likely impact of human on the distribution of buffaloes was collected through questionnaire in the forms of interview. This study revealed that forest and farmland habitats have increased, whereas savanna woodland and shrubland have decreased during 1986–2017. Shrubland, forest and savanna woodland habitats were the three possible habitat types of Cape buffalo that had converted to farmland by 33%, 25% and 19%, respectively, during 1986-2017. Besides, high human population (84.5%), agricultural land expansion (81.2%) and bushmeat hunting (50.7%) were the top three factors that affect wildlife and their former habitats in the Didessa-Dabena Valleys. The synergistic interactions of land-use/land-cover change and severe human induced pressure such as poaching, formal and informal resettlement programmes had caused the contraction of former ranges, localized distribution and partial ranges shift of Cape buffaloes to Jorgo-Wato Protected Forest where buffaloes have not been recorded before. For sustainable conservation of Cape buffaloes in Jorgo-Wato and Didessa-Dabena River Valleys, a corridor should be designed to increase gene flow between the two populations. Moreover, the implementation of resettlement programmes in the potential wildlife habitats should consider a balance between wildlife conservation and public interest through the involvement of professionals from different sectors.

Keywords


Didessa-Dabena Valley; Historical Range; Jorgo-Wato; Resettlement; Migration

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