As part of my undergraduate coursework, I am conducting a thesis project on a topic related to my field of study.
I am working with the non-profit grassroots organization Action for Cheetahs in Kenya for the duration of 16 weeks – from September to mid-December. My research will be set in the northern Samburu and southern Machakos, Kajiado, and Makueni counties looking at landscape use by large East African carnivores, including hyena, lion, cheetah, leopard, and African wild dog, in sites with varying levels of human settlement and use. I will be determining, therefore, how proximity to livestock and indigenous settled areas (mostly small villages) affect where carnivores primarily reside on a species-specific basis.
The goals of this research are to:
- Analyze anthropogenic and environmental factors affecting landscape use by carnivores in Kenya
- Determine factors enabling livestock predation (i.e. poor husbandry)
- Suggest solutions to reducing conflict by prioritizing/addressing positively-correlated factors
This study will be composed of two parts: occupancy analysis and local interviews.
- The occupancy modelling and analysis requires collection of presence-absence data for each carnivore. Transects in each site will therefore be laid out and data systematically collected by trained local field officers to determine carnivore presence (through cues and/or sightings) and prey density (through sightings). Both environmental and anthropogenic variables will be considered, including habitat type, proximity to permanent water, settlement density, livestock density, prey density, and anthropogenic landscape use.
- The interviews will be conducted by randomly selecting and interviewing livestock-owning households (or manyattas) to determine frequency of conflict, most common conflict predators, total average loss to predators, and effectiveness of deterrents.
If you have any questions about the research, please feel free to leave a comment and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Please keep in mind, however, that I am sporadically in the field and therefore may not have internet access for several weeks at a time.
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