Strategic management of livestock to improve biodiversity conservation in African savannahs: a conceptual basis for wildlife-livestock coexistence.

Published online
09 Mar 2016
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Journal of Applied Ecology

Fynn, R. W. S. & Augustine, D. J. & Peel, M. J. S. & Garine-Wichatitsky, M. de
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African savannas are complex socio-ecological systems with diverse wild and domestic herbivore assemblages, which adapt spatially to intra- and interannual variation in forage quantity and quality, predation and disease risks. As African savannas become increasingly fragmented by growing human populations and their associated ecological impacts, adaptive foraging options for wild and domestic herbivore populations are correspondingly limited, resulting in declining wildlife populations and impoverished pastoral societies. In addition, competition for grazing by expanding domestic herbivore populations threatens the viability of wild herbivore populations occupying similar grazing niches. Conservation initiatives are further impacted by conflicts between wildlife and local communities of people who often receive little benefit from adjacent protected areas, creating conflict between the livelihood-orientated goals of communities and the conservation-oriented goals of the international community and those with vested interests in wildlife. Conservation strategies facilitating the alignment of these opposing goals of communities and conservationists are needed. Synthesis and applications. Key to understanding facilitative and competitive interactions between wild and domestic herbivores are the concepts of niche differentiation and functional resource heterogeneity. Uncontrolled incursions of burgeoning domestic herbivore populations into protected areas (PAs) threaten the conservation of wild herbivore biodiversity. However, domestic herbivores can be managed to minimize competition with wild herbivores and to enhance habitat by maximizing grassland structural heterogeneity (greater adaptive foraging options), creation of nutrient hotspots in the landscape and facilitation of high-quality grazing. Ecosystem service benefits to communities through controlled access to grazing resources in PAs, associated with appropriate disease management, can provide a conservation payment to promote communities' support of conservation of key wildlife migratory ranges and corridors outside PAs.

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