Human-elephant conflict in Kenya heightens with increase in crop-raiding

February 04, 2021

A new study led by the University of Kent's Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) has found that elephants living around the world-famous Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, are crop-raiding closer to the protected area, more frequently and throughout the year but are causing less damage when doing so.

Findings show that the direct economic impact of this crop-raiding in the Trans Mara region has dropped, yet farmers have to spend more time protecting their fields, further reducing support for conservation in communities who currently receive few benefits from living with wildlife.

The research published by Biological Conservation demonstrates the effects that climate change, agricultural expansion and increased cattle grazing within the reserve have had on elephant crop-raiding trends in the region.

The team of conservationists, led by Professor Bob Smith and DICE alumna Dr Lydia Tiller (Research and Science Manager, Save the Elephants), investigated the seasonal, temporal and spatial trends of elephant crop-raiding in the Trans Mara, Kenya during 2014-2015, comparing results to a previous DICE study from 1999 to 2000.

The number of crop-raiding incidents increased by 49% over the 15 years, but crop damage per incident dropped by 83%. This could be because farmers are better prepared to frighten off elephants. It could also be because landcover change makes it harder for elephants to hide in forest patches, and this spread of farmland and loss of forest to illegal charcoal clearing means that more of the crop-raiding incidents are taking place closer to the protected area.

Professor Smith said: 'Landcover change has had a major impact on where human-elephant conflict takes place. Better land-use planning and support for farmers would help reduce crop-raiding as well as people's tolerance of elephants.'

Lydia Tiller said: 'The change in crop-raiding trends going from being highly seasonal during 1999-2000 when maize crops are ripe, to year-round during 2014-2015, is yet another demonstration of how climate change is affecting nature. With less natural vegetation available for elephants to eat in the Masai Mara, this is not surprising. Restoring elephants' feeding habitat in the park is vital to reducing human-elephant conflict in the area.'
-end-
Their research paper 'Changing seasonal, temporal and spatial crop-raiding trends over 15 years in a human-elephant conflict hotspot' is published by Biological Conservation. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2020.108941

University of Kent

Related Climate Change Articles from Brightsurf:

Are climate scientists being too cautious when linking extreme weather to climate change?
Climate science has focused on avoiding false alarms when linking extreme events to climate change.

Mysterious climate change
New research findings underline the crucial role that sea ice throughout the Southern Ocean played for atmospheric CO2 in times of rapid climate change in the past.

Mapping the path of climate change
Predicting a major transition, such as climate change, is extremely difficult, but the probabilistic framework developed by the authors is the first step in identifying the path between a shift in two environmental states.

Small change for climate change: Time to increase research funding to save the world
A new study shows that there is a huge disproportion in the level of funding for social science research into the greatest challenge in combating global warming -- how to get individuals and societies to overcome ingrained human habits to make the changes necessary to mitigate climate change.

Sub-national 'climate clubs' could offer key to combating climate change
'Climate clubs' offering membership for sub-national states, in addition to just countries, could speed up progress towards a globally harmonized climate change policy, which in turn offers a way to achieve stronger climate policies in all countries.

Review of Chinese atmospheric science research over the past 70 years: Climate and climate change
Over the past 70 years since the foundation of the People's Republic of China, Chinese scientists have made great contributions to various fields in the research of atmospheric sciences, which attracted worldwide attention.

A CERN for climate change
In a Perspective article appearing in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Tim Palmer (Oxford University), and Bjorn Stevens (Max Planck Society), critically reflect on the present state of Earth system modelling.

Fairy-wrens change breeding habits to cope with climate change
Warmer temperatures linked to climate change are having a big impact on the breeding habits of one of Australia's most recognisable bird species, according to researchers at The Australian National University (ANU).

Believing in climate change doesn't mean you are preparing for climate change, study finds
Notre Dame researchers found that although coastal homeowners may perceive a worsening of climate change-related hazards, these attitudes are largely unrelated to a homeowner's expectations of actual home damage.

Older forests resist change -- climate change, that is
Older forests in eastern North America are less vulnerable to climate change than younger forests, particularly for carbon storage, timber production, and biodiversity, new research finds.

Read More: Climate Change News and Climate Change Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.