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Title: Are elephants flagships or battleships? : understanding impacts of human-elephant conflict on human wellbeing in Trans Mara District, Kenya
Author: Nyumba, Tobias Ochieng
ISNI:       0000 0004 7229 4271
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis examines the impacts of human-elephant conflict on human wellbeing and the implications for elephant conservation and management in Trans Mara District, Kenya. The District comprises communal lands bordering the world-famous Masai Mara National Reserve in southwestern Kenya. Trans Mara supports a range of land use types and provides refuge to one of Kenya’s large elephant population comprised of over 3,000 transient and 500 resident animals. This study used interdisciplinary methods to gain insights into the nature and consequences of conflict on the wellbeing of communities living with elephants. In particular, I used a combination of existing wellbeing indices and a set of indicators developed through consultations with local communities in TM to measure impacts of HEC on specific wellbeing domains. The results show that elephants still use the communal lands in Trans Mara but are increasingly restricted to the riverine forest remnants in central Trans Mara. However, there was no evidence of a further decline in the elephant range. Instead, this study points to a shift in elephant range against a background of increasing human settlement, land sub-division and agricultural expansion. The wellbeing of Trans Mara residents comprised eight indicators. Human-elephant conflict negatively affected peoples’ wellbeing, but the impacts were limited to certain dimensions. Elephants affected school-going children within elephant range. Attitudes towards elephants and its conservation in TM were influenced by the location of human residence relative to elephant refuge, diversity of income sources, and age and gender. Finally, conflict mitigation in Trans Mara is still elusive and challenging, but opportunities exist to develop simple and dynamic mitigation tools. The findings of this study have important implications for the future of elephant conservation in the face of competing human needs, both in Trans Mara District and elsewhere in Africa.
Supervisor: Leader-Williams, Nigel Sponsor: University of Cambridge ; Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) ; Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN) ; WildiZE Foundation
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Wellbeing ; Human-elephant-conflcit ; Poverty ; Range