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Wednesday, April 11 • 2:15pm - 2:30pm
HABITAT FRAGMENTATION/CONNECTIVITY: Ranking Core Areas, Corridor and Conflict Hotspots for Lion Conservation in Southern Africa

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AUTHORS: Samuel A. Cushman, US Forest Service; David W. Macdonald, University of Oxford; Andrew J. Loveridge, University of Oxford; Laila Bahaa-el-din, University of Kwazulu Natal; Dominic Bauer, University of Oxford; Kristen Kesch, University of Oxford; Helen Bothwell, Northern Arizona University; Nic Elliot, Kenya Wildlife Trust

ABSTRACT: Habitat loss and human-wildlife conflict are major drivers of population decline and extinction, particularly in large carnivores, such as the African lion. Landscape connectivity is critical for maintaining gene flow and reducing demographic stochasticity. While the status of National Parks is relatively secure, areas adjacent to them that link to other protected areas face the threat of conversion to land-uses that exclude wildlife. We used an empirically optimized resistance surface to calculate resistant kernel and factorial least cost path predictions of population connectivity across the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area and surrounding landscape. We mapped and ranked the relative importance of (1) dispersal areas outside National Parks, (2) corridors between the key areas, and (3) areas of highest human-lion conflict risk. To increase overall connectivity of the population and reduce human-lion conflict, efforts should be made to minimize anthropogenic disturbance in the identified dispersal areas and corridors, and wildlife-related activities should be encouraged to prevent land-use conversion.

Wednesday April 11, 2018 2:15pm - 2:30pm CDT
Hancock Parlor