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University of Wyoming (2016)

Range Collapse, Demography and Conservation of the Critically Endangered Hirola Antelope in Kenya

Ali, Abdullahi H..

Titre : Range Collapse, Demography and Conservation of the Critically Endangered Hirola Antelope in Kenya

Auteur : Ali, Abdullahi H..

Etablissement de soutenance : University of Wyoming

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2016

Résumé
The hirola (Beatragus hunteri) is the rarest antelope on Earth, with a global population size of ca. 500 individuals restricted to the Kenya-Somalia border. Hirola exhibited ongoing declines since the 1970s ; the remaining populations occur almost solely on pastoral lands with no formal protection. Because of historical, political instability in the hirola’s native range, it has been difficult to pinpoint the reasons underlying hirola declines. Like many other globally endangered species, probably more than one factor underlies the plight of hirola. Therefore, I investigated, 1) the role of predation and range degradation in driving hirola declines, 2) mechanism responsible for hirola range collapse and landscape change within hirola historical range and 3) I have identified socially-acceptable strategies for habitat restoration and hirola recovery. Understanding the impacts of these factors can help determine the next steps necessary to maximize the chances of hirola persistence in the future. My findings suggest a combination of top-down (predation) and bottom-up (rangeland quality) forces drive hirola declines, with populations in the historical range impacted more by poor rangeland quality. Additionally, resource selection analysis revealed that contemporary low numbers of hirola are due to loss of forage via tree encroachment. Some factors—including megaherbivore extirpations, fire suppression, and overgrazing—are likely to have triggered this tree encroachment and may impede contemporary recovery efforts. Locals supported efforts to conserve elephants, seed and fertilize grass, and remove trees as means to restore hirola historical range. Locals were opposed to a voluntary reduction of livestock and were ambivalent toward soil ripping and control burns. Livestock wealth (ownership) and years of residency were key predictors of locals’ perceptions toward rangeland-restoration practices. I recommend a combination of rangeland restoration efforts coupled with reintroductions to enhance the chances of recovery for this globally endangered species

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Page publiée le 27 septembre 2017, mise à jour le 20 novembre 2018