African Journal of Ecology and Ecosystems

African Journal of Ecology and Ecosystems ISSN 9428-167X Vol. 7 (2), pp. 001-015, February, 2020. © International Scholars Journals

Full Length Research Paper

Land use and cover changes and their effects on elephant home ranges and distribution in Mara landscape, Narok County, Kenya

Lokitela Peter Erot* and Mark Ndunda Mutinda

Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Africa Nazarene University, P.O Box 53067 – 00200 Nairobi, Kenya.

Accepted 11 February, 2020

Abstract 

The Maasai Mara Landscape (MML) supports one of the richest wildlife populations remaining on earth but over the last century, has experienced transformation notably through conversion of former rangelands into croplands. Elephants have both temporal and spatial requirements, which if not provided, render them vulnerable to the land-use practices. The study assessed land use and vegetation cover changes that have occurred and their effects on the elephant movements and distribution within the MML using an integrated methodological approach. The analysis revealed changes in land use and land cover classes over a period of 20 years for the three epochs, from 1997, 2007 and 2017. Elephant’s distribution has been restricted to areas of high vegetation densities within specific habitats hence accelerating the rate of habitat destruction and degradation due to their high densities. These changes have drastically reduced forage for elephants necessitating them to travel longer distances out of their home range in search for food. Human beings have caused land use and cover changes which have detrimental impacts on the ecosystem and ecosystem services.

Keywords: Land use change, land cover changes, Maasai Mara Landscape, elephant distribution, home range.