Published on Thu Aug 12 2021

Effects of land-use and landscape drivers in the species richness and distribution of carnivores in Faragosa-Fura Landscape of Southern Rift Valley, Ethiopia

Gebo, B., Takele, S., Shibru, S.

Carnivore species coexisting with humans in different land-use types remain largely missing. This paper investigated the effect of anthropogenic land-used drivers on carnivore species richness and distribution in the Faragosa-Fura Landscape, Gamo Zone, southern Ethiopia. The study concluded that the wetland is the most important habitat, particularly for larger-sized and habitat specialists.

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Abstract

Understanding the species richness and distribution of carnivores across anthropogenic land-use types in an area is an essential first step for biodiversity conservation and human-carnivore coexistence. However, quantitative data on carnivore species coexisting with humans in different land-use types remain largely missing. Thus, this paper investigated the effect of anthropogenic land-use and landscape drivers on carnivore species richness and distribution in the Faragosa-Fura Landscape, Gamo Zone, southern Ethiopia. To collect data, we employed the line transect method using three complementary field surveys techniques: sign survey, camera-trapping, and opportunistic sighting survey during wet and dry seasons in 2020 and 2021. We stratified the study landscape into five land-use types- forest, wetland, grassland, agricultural land, and settlement. The result proved the occurrence of 12 carnivore species belonging to six families, including vulnerable Felidae species - Panthera pardus. Family Felidae and Herpestidae were composed of a greater number of species, while Hyaenidae and Mustelidae were each represented by single species. Out of identified species, only two species (Panthera pardus and Crocuta crocuta) were large-sized, while the rest were medium and small-sized carnivores. Overall, the mean richness of the study area was 5.73{+/-}0.284(SE). The species richness was highest in the wetland (n = 12, mean = 7.67{+/-}0.494(SE)) and lowest in the settlement (n = 5, mean = 4.25{+/-}0.479(SE)). The regression analysis showed that most of the carnivores displayed a strong negative relationship with agriculture, roads, and settlement while displayed a strong positive relationship with wetland and forest. In general, out of 32 species recorded in Ethiopia, this study quantified 12 carnivore species that signify the area is an important area for wildlife conservation in Ethiopia. Further, the study concluded that the wetland is the most important habitat, particularly for larger-sized and habitat specialists while anthropogenic land-uses types adversely affecting species richness. Thus, a generic paradigm to reconcile land management and biodiversity conservation is highly important.