The effects of land cover change on the conservation of mini-antelopes in the south district of Unguja, Tanzania

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University of Dar es Salaam
The coral rag forest, which is the only remaining habitat for the mini-antelopes found in Unguja Island, is continuously being affected by human activities despite the existence of conservation legal frameworks. The main of this study is to provide an understanding of how land cover change affects the conservation of mini-antelopes in the coral rag forest of the South District of Unguja. Specifically, the study, sought to determine the land cover changes of the South District of Unguja Island from 1975 to 2014, investigate the causes of such land cover changes, investigate the effects of land cover changes on the habitat of mini-antelopes and examine the extent to which the conservation measures in place help to conserve the mini-antelopes and their habitats. The study was conducted in six shehias, namely Paje, Jambiani Kibigija, Mtende, Kizimkazi Mkunguni, Kibuteni and Muyuni ‘A’ A total of 323 households were selected proportionally from the selected shehias for the study. The study also involved eight key informants and six focus groups with 5-7 members each. Data were collected through remote sensing image interpretation and geographical information system analysis, structured interviews, focus group discussions, in-depth interviews, transect walk and field observation. ARC GIS and FRAGSTATS were used analyse spatial data while Statistical Product and Services Solution (SPSS) version 20 was used to analyse non-spatial quantitative data. Qualitative data were analysed through content analysis. The results of the study show that the major change detected in the study area between 1975 and 2014 was the decline of natural vegetation.Generally, the forest decline by 28.3% from 43.31% to 15%. Shrubs slightly declined from 43.72% to 43.50%. Besides settlement/built up areas increased from 0.1% to 4.9% while semi-open forest and bush increase from 0.1% to 34.7%. The changes have been caused mainly by human activities, including shifting cultivation, commercial cutting of firewood, charcoal burning, cutting of sticks for seaweed farming and settlement expansion. The underlying causes included population growth, land tenure insecurity, tourism development and the nature of the soil, underlying rocks and terrain of the study area. As a result of land cover change in the South district of Unguja, the habitat for wildlife has declined from 87.3% in 1975 to 58.5% in 2014, and it has become increasingly fragmented. Consequently, mini-antelopes have become unevenly distributed across the study areas and their number has declined. For example, the Ader’s duikers are currently found only in Mtende while i the past they were found across the coral rag forest in the study area. The forage of mini-antelopes has declined and, consequently, they have adapted from eating wild food to eating cultivated foods (e.g. cow peas). Although different strategies for conserving mini-antelopes and their habitat have been introduced since the colonial period, most of them have failed because they were not adequately enforced and communities’ livelihoods were not considered. The establishment of community forest management areas (COFMS) since 2010, however, has improved the habitat. It is concluded that land cover change has negatively affected the habitat of mini-antelopes in the south district of Unguja Island, making the available species of mini-antelopes i.e. the Ader’s duikers and the blue duikers endangered and threatened, respectively. This calls for stern measures to reverse the trend of hbitst decline and fragmentation in order to protect the mini-antelopes. As a long term solution, there is need to establish development projects as an alternative source of income to reduce people’s dependency on the forest and wildlife resources. To conserve the mini-antelopes and their habitat, it is imperative to involve a wide range of stakeholders, including local people, at the beginning of conservation projects
Available in print form, East Africana Collection, Dr.WilbertChagula Library, (THS EAF HD 1131.T34.S342)
Land, Land cover change, Land conservation, Mini-antelopes, south district of Unguja, Tanzania
Said, M. K (2019) The effects of land cover change on the conservation of mini-antelopes in the south district of Unguja, Tanzania, Doctorial dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam, Dar es Salaam.