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Title: Elephant endurance in Aceh : the effects of habitat disturbance and land cover change on the conservation of Sumatran elephants in Aceh, Indonesia
Author: Rood, Ente Jacob Johan
ISNI:       0000 0004 2708 5681
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 2010
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The Sumatran elephant is seriously threatened by extinction throughout its range. Here, conservation issues threatening the future survival of Asian elephants in Sumatra, and Aceh in particular, are analyzed and evaluated. The impact of deforestation on the prevalence of elephants living in isolated subpopulations scattered across Sumatra was addressed by analyzing the spatial patterns of deforestation and habitat use of elephants. Deforestation data was obtained from remotely sensed imagery and elephant habitat use was assessed by means of ecological niche modelling. The Sumatra-wide impact of deforestation on elephant population survival was analyzed by comparing the historic distribution of elephants to their current distribution. The observed incidences of population extinctions were then compared to spatial pattern of land cover change and anthropogenic influences. Moreover, the occurrence of crop raiding by elephants was evaluated against the spatial configuration of the forests and forest disturbances. Finally, the effectiveness of different forest conservation strategies was assessed. Niche modelling revealed that elephants are mainly confined to closed canopy habitats located within landscape depressions and along the forest edge. Surprisingly, elephants were found over a wide range of elevations and were found at locations within rugged terrain. Since deforestation in Aceh was mainly concentrated within the same areas forming the most optimal elephant habitat, elephants are likely to become displaced from their natural ranges. Also, crop raiding incidents appeared to be most frequent in areas which recently had been cleared, but still had undisturbed or secondary forest patches in the direct vicinity. These findings, together with the observation that elephant population survival was significantly reduced in areas which had little forest cover over an extended period of time, suggest that deforestation is the main factor leading to elephant extinctions. To safeguard the survival of elephant populations into the future, conservation strategies should attempt to integrate elephant habitat requirements into land use plans while simultaneously considering human economic interests. Conserving forest by reducing access appears to be the most effective measure to reduce illegal logging. The application of buffer zones along the forest edge in which limited resource extraction is allowed is therefore more likely to reduce deforestation as compared to the investments needed to actively protect the forest.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available