Sonja Trautmann

PDF der Diplomarbeit im Hochschulschriften-Service der Universität Wien

Spatio-temporal patterns of human-elephant conflicts at the margin of Thuma Forest Reserve

Human-elephant conflicts occur where humans and elephants compete for resources. Particularly crop raiding by elephants negatively affects the livelihood of farmers which results in a negative attitude towards elephants and protected areas. Therefore human elephant conflicts became a major conservation concern in Africa and Asia. To analyze the spatio-temporal patterns of human elephant conflicts at the margin of Thuma Forest Reserve (TFR), Malawi, interviews with village heads and small-scale farmers were conducted. Differences in the frequency of damages of individual crops largely reflected availability. Crop raiding followed a seasonal pattern corresponding to the maturing of crops like maize, which was most affected by elephants. The peak of crop raiding was reached two months before harvesting time and occurred in March during the wet season. A second much smaller peak of crop raiding activity was reached in October and may correspond to the maturing of maize in villages with irrigation. Elephant incidents occurred up to a distance of 6.5 km from the reserve’s boundary, particularly during the wet season. The likelihood of incidents significantly decreased with increasing distance of villages from the margin of TFR. During the dry season no clear pattern was found emphasizing that the occurrence of elephant incidents outside TFR is spatially less predictable. A GLM testing for effects of months, daytime, irrigation and distance to TFR on the size of observed elephant groups only showed a significant effect of season. From January until May the group size increased continuously and then remained stable until December. Furthermore, our data indicate that the electric fence build at the eastern border of TFR successfully protects villages against crop-raiding elephants. Our study implicates that combining compensation for farmers affected by crop-raiding elephants and the protection of additional villages at the TFR border by an electric fence may be the only mid- to long-term approaches to solve the human-elephant conflict.