Friday, November 06, 2015

ORI Researchers Presentation

ORI researchers, Prof  Oluwatoyin Dare Kolawole, Dr Emily Bennitt & Dr Richard Fynn held seminar presentations yesterday in the Institute.

Their Presentations were on the following:
Energetic but jobless: socio-economic and institutional drivers of youth unemployment in the Okavango Delta, Botswana, Prof  Oluwatoyin Dare Kolawole and Onkarabile Kemiso

Abstract: Unemployment, inequality and poverty are the scaffoldings which conspicuously mirror the impediments to development in any human society. Of the three, joblessness or unemployment serves as the hinge on which other challenges rest. Thus the paper assesses the factors contributing to rural youth unemployment in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. It specifically analyses socio-economic and institutional factors influencing rural youth unemployment in the study area. A multi-stage sampling procedure was used to sample 105 youths aged between 18-35 years in two communities within the Okavango Delta area. Open and close-ended questionnaires were administered to elicit information from the respondents. We summarised the data obtained using descriptive statistics. We then used inferential statistical tools such as correlation and regression analyses to test the relationship between youth unemployment and selected explanatory variables embedded in socio-economic and institutional factors. A non-parametric test was also conducted using Chi square analysis to determine the associations between the dependent and nominal variables investigated. The findings show that most of the youths (57.1%) were unemployed (57.1%) of which 65.6% of the jobless individuals constituted the female respondents. Regression analysis indicates that level of education (t = -2.133; p ≤ 0.05); training (t = 3.831; p ≤ 0.000); access to information (t = 2.349; p ≤ 0.05); acquisition of entrepreneurial skills (r = 0.388; p ≤ 0.000) and youth perceptions towards government programmes (t = 1.744; p ≤ 0.10) are significant variables influencing rural youth unemployment in the study area. Chi square analysis also shows that gender (X2 = 4.815; p ≤ 0.05) had a significant association with youth unemployment. Thus education, training, and access to relevant information are crucial policy issues for alleviating rural youth unemployment in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. 

Behaviour-related scalar habitat use by Cape buffalo (Synerus caffer)- Dr  Emilly Bennitt

Abstract: Studies of habitat use by animals must consider behavioural resource requirements at different scales, which could influence the functional value of different sites. Using Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer caffer) in the Okavango Delta, Botswana, we tested the hypotheses that behaviour affected use between and within habitats, hereafter referred to as macro- and microhabitats, respectively. We fitted GPS-enabled collars to fifteen buffalo and used the distances and turning angles between consecutive fixes to cluster the resulting data into resting, grazing, walking and relocating behaviours. Distance to water and six vegetation characteristic variables were recorded in sites used for each behaviour, except for relocating, which occurred too infrequently. We used multilevel binomial and multinomial logistic regressions to identify variables that characterised seasonally-preferred macrohabitats and microhabitats used for different behaviours. Our results showed that macrohabitat use was linked to behaviour, although this was least apparent during the rainy season, when resources were most abundant. Behaviour-related microhabitat use was less significant, but variation in forage characteristics could predict some behaviour within all macrohabitats. The variables predicting behaviour were not consistent, but resting and grazing sites were more readily identifiable than walking sites. These results highlight the significance of resting, as well as foraging, site availability in buffalo spatial processes. Our results emphasise the importance of considering several behaviours and scales in studies of habitat use to understand the links between environmental resources and animal behavioural and spatial ecology

Strategic management of livestock to improve biodiversity conservation in African savannas: a conceptual basis for wildlife-livestock coexistence, Dr Richard Fynn

1. African savannahs are complex socio-ecological systems with diverse wild and domestic herbivore assemblages, which utilize functional heterogeneity of habitats to adapt to intra- and inter-annual variation in forage quantity and quality, predation and disease risks.
2. As African savannahs become increasingly fragmented by growing human populations and their associated ecological impacts, adaptive foraging options for wild and domestic herbivore populations are correspondingly limited, resulting in declining wildlife populations and impoverished pastoral societies. In addition, competition for grazing by expanding domestic herbivore populations threatens to reduce functional heterogeneity by homogenizing grassland structure, and reducing the viability of wild herbivore populations occupying similar grazing niches.
3. Conservation initiatives are further impacted by conflicts between wildlife and local communities of people who often receive little benefit from adjacent protected areas, creating conflict between the livelihood-orientated goals of communities and the conservation-oriented goals of the international community and those with vested interests in wildlife. Conservation strategies facilitating the alignment of these opposing goals of communities and conservationists are needed.
 4. Synthesis and applications. Key to understanding facilitative and competitive interactions between wild and domestic herbivores are the concepts of niche differentiation and functional resource heterogeneity. Uncontrolled incursions of burgeoning domestic herbivore populations into protected areas threatens the conservation of wild herbivore biodiversity. However, domestic herbivores can be managed to minimize competition with wild herbivores and to enhance habitat by maximizing grassland structural heterogeneity (greater adaptive foraging options), creation of nutrient hotspots in the landscape and facilitation of high-quality grazing. Ecosystem service benefits to communities through controlled access to grazing resources in protected areas, associated with appropriate disease management, can provide a conservation payment to promote communities’ support of conservation of key wildlife migratory ranges and corridors outside protected areas.

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