n African Zoology - Effectiveness of electro-fencing for restricting the ranging behaviour of wildlife : a case study in the degazetted parts of Akagera National Park

Volume 51 Number 4
  • ISSN : 1562-7020
  • E-ISSN: 2224-073X
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Several national parks on the African continent have been fenced to mitigate human-wildlife conflict, but the effectiveness of different fencing strategies seems to vary between regions. Here, we assessed the effectiveness of electro-fencing for restricting movement patterns of several wild ungulates in Akagera National Park (NP), Rwanda. Following the turmoil of the Rwandan genocide and civil war (1991-1995), large numbers of returning war refugees brought about an increasing pressure on land use, after which considerable parts of the western Akagera NP and adjacent Mutara Game Reserve were degazetted, followed by the construction of an electric fence in 2013 and a helicopter-based game-drive of ungulates into the modern park. We conducted distance sampling of wildlife and domestic livestock in the Uruhita plain - now no longer part of Akagera NP but bordering the modern Akagera NP to the west - for extended periods of time (2010-2015) before and after fencing. For abundant species population densities could be calculated, whereas for other species encounter frequencies are reported. We report on continuously high cattle densities, and increasing encounter frequencies of sheep/goats in the Uruhita plain. We found decreasing densities of zebra () and decreasing encounter frequencies of waterbuck (), stagnant encounter frequencies in the case of topi () and stagnant densities of impala (). The latter species can jump fences, and we argue that competitive release and reduced predation may be the prime factors leading impala to (temporarily) exploit grasslands outside the modern national park.

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