African lion survival may be dependent on corridor creation

Nov 3, 2015

Source: USDA Forest Service

Across Africa, lion populations are threatened by continued reductions in their range and associated genetic isolation.

Over the last fifteen years scientists from the U.S. Forest Service have developed a suite of methods to understand how ecological changes caused by human activities affect species occurrence, population sizes and movement. These methods have been adopted around the world to address a wide variety of research, management and conservation challenges. For the last six years, scientists from the U.S. Forest Service and Oxford University have been collaborating to understand how lions move across the African landscape and to model ways to try to conserve genetic diversity and populations across the continent.

Focusing on the Kavango-Zambezi Trans-frontier Conservation Area (KAZA), a new study published this month inLandscape Ecology shows that strategic directional fencing and/or corridors aimed at directing lions between may be a viable solution for lion conservation. Landscape connectivity is critical to the survival of the African lion. This study looked at lions with different dispersal, or movement abilities, and then compared this against nine different landscape scenarios, which included reduction of protected lands, doubling of human populations, transition of non-protected lands to agro-pastoral use and more.

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