Spatial Analysis of Human-Elephant Conflicts in a Fragmented Tropical Landscape
AbstractThe wide-ranging nature of Asian elephants coupled with the loss and fragmentation of their habitat has led to increased conflicts between these animals and humans across Asia. Understanding the spatial pattern and correlates of conflict is crucial for planning conflict mitigation and species conservation strategies. This study applies spatial concepts and methods to investigate the proximate environmental correlates of human-elephant conflicts on the Valparai plateau in the Anamalai Hills of India. Employing field data collected between 2002 and 2007, the study also specifically tests the hypothesis (and widely held belief) that proximity of forest remnants increases conflicts. Conflicts and associated environmental data are analyzed using multivariate regression modeling. The study demonstrates how spatial structure observed in the dependent variable can be accounted for using an explicitly spatial regression model or an ordinary least squares (OLS) model with spatial predictors. The results from our multivariate regression modeling reject the hypothesis that forest fragments increase human-elephant conflicts. Instead, the analysis demonstrates that, as less bamboo is available for forage and as the distance to protected areas such as forest remnants and wildlife sanctuaries increasesâ€”independent of the size and extent of the forest fragmentsâ€”the likelihood of conflict increases. The results suggest that the most important predictor of human-elephant conflicts on this particular landscape is neither the number of settlements, nor the extent of road development. Instead, the results point to the extent of crop cultivation, i.e. the number of eucalyptus plantations, which are a non-edible food source for elephants.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by GeoDa Center for Geospatial Analysis and Computation in its series GeoDa Center Working Papers with number 1043.
Date of creation: 2011
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