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Kiffner C.,Center for Wildlife Management Studies | Kioko J.,Center for Wildlife Management Studies | Leweri C.,Center for Wildlife Management Studies | Leweri C.,Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute | Krause S.,FH Luebeck
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Mixed mammal species groups are common in East African savannah ecosystems. Yet, it is largely unknown if co-occurrences of large mammals result from random processes or social preferences and if interspecific associations are consistent across ecosystems and seasons. Because species may exchange important information and services, understanding patterns and drivers of heterospecific interactions is crucial for advancing animal and community ecology. We recorded 5403 single and multi-species clusters in the Serengeti-Ngorongoro and Tarangire-Manyara ecosystems during dry and wet seasons and used social network analyses to detect patterns of species associations. We found statistically significant associations between multiple species and association patterns differed spatially and seasonally. Consistently, wildebeest and zebras preferred being associated with other species, whereas carnivores, African elephants, Maasai giraffes and Kirk's dik-diks avoided being in mixed groups. During the dry season, we found that the betweenness (a measure of importance in the flow of information or disease) of species did not differ from a random expectation based on species abundance. In contrast, in the wet season, we found that these patterns were not simply explained by variations in abundances, suggesting that heterospecific associations were actively formed. These seasonal differences in observed patterns suggest that interspecific associations may be driven by resource overlap when resources are limited and by resource partitioning or anti-predator advantages when resources are abundant. We discuss potential mechanisms that could drive seasonal variation in the cost-benefit tradeoffs that underpin the formation of mixed-species groups. Copyright: © 2014 Kiffner et al.


Kiffner C.,University of Gottingen | Kiffner C.,Center for Wildlife Management Studies | Stanko M.,Slovak Academy of Sciences | Morand S.,CIRAD - Agricultural Research for Development | And 8 more authors.
Parasitology Research | Year: 2014

We studied the effect of host gender and body mass on species richness of flea infracommunities in nine rodent host species from three biomes (temperate zone of central Europe, desert of the Middle East and the tropics of East Africa). Using season- and species-specific generalized linear mixed models and controlling for year-to-year variation, spatial clustering of rodent sampling and over-dispersion of the data, we found inconsistent associations between host characteristics and flea species richness. We found strong support for male-biased flea parasitism, especially during the reproductive period (higher species richness in male hosts than in females) in all considered European rodents (Apodemus agrarius, Myodes glareolus and Microtus arvalis) and in one rodent species from the Middle East (Dipodillus dasyurus). In contrast, two of three African rodent species (Lophuromys kilonzoi and Praomys delectorum) demonstrated a trend of female-biased flea species richness. Positive associations between body mass and the number of flea species were detected mainly in males (five of nine species: A. agrarius, M. glareolus, M. arvalis, D. dasyurus and Mastomys natalensis) and not in females (except for M. natalensis). The results of this study support earlier reports that gender-biased, in general, and male-biased, in particular, infestation by ectoparasites is not a universal rule. This suggests that mechanisms of parasite acquisition by an individual host are species-specific and have evolved independently in different rodent host-flea systems. © 2014 Springer-Verlag.


Koziarski A.,University of Maryland University College | Kissui B.,Center for Wildlife Management Studies | Kiffner C.,Center for Wildlife Management Studies
Biological Conservation | Year: 2016

Despite their cultural, economic, and ecological importance, large carnivores are experiencing a global decline, largely due to conflict with humans. In this study we assessed the spatial and temporal patterns and socioeconomic correlates of perceived conflict with lions, leopards, hyenas, cheetahs, and wild dogs in the Ngorongoro Highlands and Tarangire Manyara Ecosystem of Northern Tanzania using structured interviews (n = 356). Conflict with large carnivores was mainly prevalent during the wet season, and was spatially highly heterogeneous. Hyenas were the predominant conflict species, followed by leopards. Employing species-specific generalized linear mixed effects models, we assessed spatial, psychological, socio-economic and demographic correlates of perceived conflict. Interestingly, we found few consistencies among correlates for reported conflict frequency. Ethnicity, gender, age, education, fear of large carnivore species, and education had mixed effects on perceived conflict frequency while livestock ownership and relative wealth were negligible in explaining reported conflict frequency. These results suggest that education, psychological and demographic attributes were more influential (though dependent on species and landscape) in wildlife conflict perceptions than economic considerations. Although effective mitigation methods were generally available, they were rarely employed. We suggest that mitigation strategies that address local needs be made more accessible, and that conservation education programs particularly target conflict hotspot areas. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd.


Kioko J.,Center for Wildlife Management Studies | Kiffner C.,Center for Wildlife Management Studies | Ndibalema V.,Sokoine University of Agriculture | Hartnett E.,University of Massachusetts Amherst | Seefeld C.,Colorado State University
Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge | Year: 2015

Effective wildlife conservation requires understanding and integration of cultural values and practices among communities within wildlife range areas. In Africa, elephants still roam outside protected areas and frequently interact with local people. Maasai-land in East Africa has a considerable elephant population, estimated to number 20,000 individuals, yet there is little understanding of the cultural values and perception of elephants among the Maasai people. Information on the values and perceptions of elephants among the Maasai in northern Tanzania were investigated through informal and semi-structured interviews. There was widespread use of elephant parts (mainly tusks and dung) for traditional medicine, socio-cultural and nutritional purposes. Despite the current global concern about the future of African elephant, the Maasai people believed that elephant survival was not under serious threat and that populations are increasing. Elephant Conservation programs should consider level of awareness, the values and perceptions of the local people. © 2015, National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources (NISCAIR). All rights reserved.


Kiffner C.,Center for Wildlife Management Studies | Wenner C.,Ohio State University | Laviolet A.,Colby College | Yeh K.,Amherst College | Kioko J.,Center for Wildlife Management Studies
African Journal of Ecology | Year: 2015

Land-use change is considered a major driver of biodiversity loss. In the western part of the Tarangire-Manyara ecosystem, we assessed large mammal species richness along a land-use gradient (national park, uninhabited pastoral area and settled pastoral- and farmland). We found the highest species richness in the national park and in the pastoral area and lowest species richness in the settled and farmed area. There was little evidence of seasonal changes in species diversity. Except for top-order carnivores, all functional feeding guilds were still represented in pastoral and settled areas. Although we did not find significant differences in body mass distributions and species' representation of feeding guilds between the study sites, there was a trend that omnivores, mesopredators and top-order carnivores tended to occur at lower species richness in agricultural areas than in the pastoral and fully protected areas. These results indicate that areas used for livestock keeping can maintain high wildlife species richness and that direct and indirect effects of agricultural and settlement expansions are the main drivers of species richness loss in the Tarangire-Manyara ecosystem and possibly other African savannah ecosystems. These results are useful for informed land-use planning that aims to maintain species diversity and ecological connectivity between protected areas. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Bencin H.,Cleveland State University | Kioko J.,Center For Wildlife Management Studies | Kiffner C.,Center For Wildlife Management Studies
Journal for Nature Conservation | Year: 2016

Local attitudes towards wildlife species are key for the coexistence between humans and wildlife. To assess how economic, social, and psychological factors affect human perception of wildlife species we conducted questionnaire surveys in two ecologically and culturally distinct rural areas of Northern Tanzania (Mbulu Plateau highlands and Rift Valley lowlands). Using responses of 356 individuals we determined local preferences for population sizes of 31 wildlife species. For five of these species or species groups (rodents, hyena, birds of prey, African elephant, jackal), more than 30% of participants desired a population decline. To investigate correlates for desired population reductions of these species, we ran species-specific (five listed species and African lion) and study area-specific generalized linear mixed models that accounted for spatial autocorrelation. Using these models we assessed relationships between the likelihood of respondents desiring a population decline and six hypothesized explanatory variables: gender; age; ethnicity, and wealth of participant; perceived frequency of negative interactions with; and fear of each species. In both the highland and lowland and for all species, participants that perceived higher instances of negative interactions with wildlife were more likely to prefer smaller future populations, but relationships between perceived frequency of negative interactions and attitudes were often non-linear. People who feared a species were also more likely to desire a population decline. Other variables (gender, age, ethnicity, wealth) showed species- and area-level variations, and we observed substantial spatial variation in expressed attitudes towards species. Thus, negative attitudes towards wildlife appear to be mainly associated with past (negative) experiences and fear, but not necessarily with associated costs or socio-demographic variables. To ensure coexistence between wildlife and humans, we suggest (1) wildlife damage prevention through technical measures and (2) educational initiatives to increase positive attitudes towards wildlife. © 2016 Elsevier GmbH


Okello M.M.,Center for Wildlife Management Studies | Buthmann E.,Center for Wildlife Management Studies | Mapinu B.,University of Nairobi | Kahi H.C.,University of Nairobi
Open Conservation Biology Journal | Year: 2011

Kimana Group Ranch (KGR) is a critical wildlife dispersal area for Amboseli National Park in Kenya. But irrigated agriculture in the group ranch is leading to increased conflicts and competition for land and other critical resources. This study used semi - structured interviews with group ranch members on their interactions with wildlife, resource use and access, land use changes and livelihoods. Most group ranch members practiced agriculture as opposed to pastoralism. The community noted that critical resources such as water, pasture, plant resources and space were declining, and mostly available further from their homes. Members identified agriculture expansion and human development as the main land use changes. Most members also supported agriculture expansion as well as group ranch subdivision. Even most members supported wildlife use of their land, they were unhappy about the lack of compensation for losses. Most members wanted communal wildlife sanctuaries managed by the local community rather than a foreign investor. The competition for land and its resources due to increasing human population and land use changes is limiting wildlife use of the group ranch, and hence insularizing Amboseli Park. Potential solution is to have a negotiated land use plan that harmonizing environmental conservation and local livelihoods, while diversifying people's socio-economic opportunities to reduce poverty and dependence on natural resources. © Okello et al.


Kioko J.,Center for Wildlife Management Studies | Kiringe J.W.,Center for Wildlife Management Studies | Seno S.O.,Narok University College
Journal of Arid Land | Year: 2012

The dynamics of most rangelands in Kenya remain to be poorly understood. This paper provides baseline information on the response of a semiarid rangeland under different livestock grazing regimes on land inhabited by the Massai people in the east side of Amboseli National Park in Kenya. The data were collected from grasslands designated into four types: (1) grassland from previous Massai settlements that had been abandoned for over twenty years; (2) grassland excluded from livestock grazing for eight years; (3) a dry season grazing area; and (4) a continuous grazing area where grazing occurred throughout all seasons. Collected data included grass species composition, grass height, inter-tuft distance, standing grass biomass and soil characteristics. The results indicated that continuous grazing area in semiarid rangelands exhibited loss of vegetation with negative, long-term effects on grass functional qualities and forage production, whereas grassland that used traditional Maasai grazing methods showed efficiency and desirable effects on the rangelands. The results also showed that abandoned homestead sites, though degraded, were important nutrient reservoirs.


Okello M.M.,Center for Wildlife Management Studies | Kenana L.,Kenya Wildlife Service | Kieti D.,Moi University
Tourism Analysis | Year: 2012

Tourism is a very important source for foreign revenue for Kenya. But most of this revenue is from international tourists. However, international tourists cannot always support the tourism industry, especially in years of economic, political, and social turmoil. A vibrant domestic tourism can cushion the industry from fluctuations of the international tourism market and bring stability and predictability in the industry. This study sought to address factors influencing urban and semiurban local population visitation to Nairobi National Park (NNP), and suggest ways of improving it in Kenya. The data for this study were gathered through semistructured interviews and discussions with communities surrounding the park. The results revealed that a significant (p < 0.001) majority (66%) of the community had visited the park. About half of the people (59%) were interested in viewing wildlife as the main recreational opportunity provided by the park. However, only less than 50% of the community had visited the park more than three times in their lifetime. The level of education influenced the likelihood of the community to visit the park and appreciate its conservation contribution. Even though the lack of free time, lack of interest in wildlife, or the thinking that protected areas in Kenya were meant for foreign tourists, were not hindrances to local community visiting the parks, they noted that key constraints were lack of extra disposable income, high cost of food and hospitality services inside the park for local communities, and poor marketing of parks especially targeting local Kenyans hindered high visitation rates of local Kenyans to protected areas. A large number (81%) of community members mentioned poor marketing as the reason for low park visits. Indeed, 96% said no form of advertisement for NNP had influenced their decision to visit. Hence, there is a need for new domestic customer-oriented marketing and a more friendly hospitality services tailored to local tourists among government policy to improve the economy to release more disposable income for leisure targeting NNP and other protected areas in Kenya. © 2012 Cognizant Comm. Corp.


Okello M.M.,Center for Wildlife Management Studies | Kioko J.M.,Amboseli Elephant Research Project
Open Conservation Biology Journal | Year: 2010

A majority of large mammals from Amboseli National Park rely on group ranch wildlife dispersal areas for wet season dispersal. However, the contraction of wildlife dispersal areas around Amboseli may be increasing, but the extent is unknown. This study investigated the contraction of wildlife dispersal area by human infrastructure in Olgulului-Ololorashi Group Ranch, which surrounds over 90% of Amboseli Park. Global Positioning System (GPS) was used for location and Geographical Information System (GIS) was used for spatial analysis to determine the area occupied by the structures. The minimum distance of wildlife kept away from institutions was 275 ± 20 m, followed by bomas (214 ± 16m), roads (163 ± 9 m), and livestock (192 ± 12 m). The minimum distance of wildlife from human infrastructure was used as an index of wildlife displacement. All infrastructure occupied an actual area of 66 km2 (5%) of the group ranch. This increased to 281 km2 (23%) with wildlife displacement. Of the area occupied by human infrastructure, fourteen settlement clusters (199 km2, 10.82%) were located. Bomas covered 10% of the group ranch area, followed by institutions (6%), roads (5%), and agriculture (2.13%). The infrastructures were widely distributed in the group ranch and around the Amboseli. Although more dispersal space was available, the spatial distribution of clusters and infrastructure threaten wildlife dispersal. If the obstruction of dispersal routes is not addressed, the group ranch will be compromised as a wildlife dispersal area for Amboseli National Park. © Okello and Kioko; Licensee Bentham Open.

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