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Title: Coexistence in a land use mosaic? : land use, risk and elephant ecology in Laikipia District, Kenya
Author: Graham, M. D.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2007
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This thesis is about the patterns, determinants and consequences of human-elephant interaction in Laikipia District in northern Kenya. Laikipia is located outside of formally protected areas, supports a range of land use types and harbours Kenya’s second largest elephant population comprised of over 3,000 animals. I show that elephants occur across almost 50% of Laikipia District and, intriguingly, are relatively evenly distributed across locations under cultivation, settlement and livestock production.  Results from over a 100km of ground transects, however, show that the relative abundance of elephants varies in relation to specific forms of human activity, in particular the risk of mortality presented by human occupants to elephants. Elephant use of intolerant land units, such as smallholder areas, is determined by human population density and distance from daytime refuges. An elephant’s use of smallholder areas increases with the proportion of land under smallholder production within an elephant’s range. Male elephants use intolerant areas more than female elephants. I show that elephants use cover of darkness to exploit elephant intolerant land units. I addition I show that elephants increase speed of travel through intolerant land units. I argue that these findings together with some preliminary evidence for aggregation in response to risk suggest that elephants demonstrate behavioural plasticity in response to risk and are, to some degree, resilient to human induced landscape change. Contact with elephants among local people in Laikipia varies with patterns of household resource use. Negative attitudes towards elephants were, however, not shaped by the likelihood of contact with elephants but rather by negative experiences involving elephants, such as crop-raiding, and/or knowledge of incidents in which elephants had either injured or killed local people.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available