Sibanda, M; Murwira, A (2012). Cotton fields drive elephant habitat fragmentation in the Mid Zambezi Valley, Zimbabwe. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF APPLIED EARTH OBSERVATION AND GEOINFORMATION, 19, 286-297.
In this study we tested whether cotton fields contribute more than cereal fields to African elephant (Loxodonta africana) habitat loss through its effects on woodland fragmentation in the Mid-Zambezi Valley, Zimbabwe. In order to test this hypothesis, we first mapped cotton and cereal fields using MODIS remotely sensed data. Secondly, we analysed the effect of the area of cotton and cereal fields on woodland fragmentation using regression analysis. We then related the fragmentation indices, particularly edge density with elephant distribution data to test whether elephant distribution was significantly related with woodland fragmentation resulting from cotton fields. Our results showed that cotton fields contributed more to woodland fragmentation than cereal fields. In addition, results showed that the frequency of the African elephant increased where cotton fields were many and small relative to cereal fields. We concluded that cotton fields are the main driver of woodland fragmentation and therefore elephant habitat in the Mid-Zambezi Valley compared with cereal fields. (c) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.