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Title: Competition between people and elephants in the Okavango Delta Panhandle, Botswana
Author: Songhurst, Anna Catherine
ISNI:       0000 0004 2716 5411
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2012
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The general objective of this study was to gain a greater understanding of the complexities of the competition between people and elephants, focusing on elements that can be investigated in the short term and could aid in devising effective mitigation and management strategies. Specifically, I aimed to a) determine the current elephant population numbers and growth rate in the study area and investigate how reliable aerial survey estimates are; b) monitor the extent of human-elephant conflict (HEC) incidents and compare community based monitoring techniques to a top-down government approach; c) determine key drivers of elephant crop-raiding and explore how spatial autocorrelation affects such data; d) investigate how elephant movements are affected by human habitat modifications, and; e) investigate rural farmers' attitudes towards elephants and compare perceived human-elephant conflict to actual measurable levels of elephant crop damage. My findings show that combinations of social and ecological factors are involved in shaping competition between people and elephants. A multi-disciplinary approach to investigations is, therefore, needed to fully understand such competition and resulting conflicts. Contributory factors to HEC identified in this study include: actual and perceived conflict levels; farmer vulnerability to risk and available coping strategies; susceptibility of crops to elephant foraging, which affects both actual and perceived conflict levels; methods used to measure damage; natural and modified behaviour of people and elephants affecting resource and spatial use as well as how each species reacts to living in close proximity to each other; and human feelings and perception towards elephants and the situation, which are influenced by an array of socio-economic factors. To be successful, effective conflict resolution and management strategies will, therefore, require consideration of short and long term dynamics, as well as a combination of mitigation approaches that consider all elements affecting conflict extent.
Supervisor: Coulson, Tim Sponsor: Wildlife Conservation Society ; Rufford Small Grants Foundation ; Wilderness Wildlife Trust ; Conservation International ; Conservation Trust Fund ; Kalahari Conservation Society ; Fund for Women Graduates ; Tati Company (Pty) ; The Jolly Bushman (Pty) ; Leica Camera Gruppe ; Okavango Polers Trust ; Elephants Without Borders ; Wings for Wildlife ; World Group ; Northern Textile Mills
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral