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Animal Biodiversity and Conservation. Volume 38.1 (2015) Pages: 1-10

Habitat preference of the endangered Ethiopian walia ibex (Capra walie) in the Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia

Ejigu, D., Bekele, A., Powell, L., Lernould, J.-M.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.32800/abc.2015.38.0001

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Abstract

Walia ibex (Capra walie) is an endangered and endemic species restricted to the Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia. Recent expansion of human populations and livestock grazing in the park has prompted concerns that the range and habitats used by walia ibex have changed. We performed observations of walia ibex, conducted pellet counts of walia ibex and livestock, and measured vegetation and classified habitat characteristics at sample points during wet and dry seasons from October 2009 to November 2011. We assessed the effect of habitat characteristics on the presence of pellets of walia ibex, and then used a spatial model to create a predictive map to determine areas of high potential to support walia ibex. Rocky and shrubby habitats were more preferred than herbaceous habitats. Pellet distribution indicated that livestock and walia ibex were not usually found at the same sample point (i.e. 70% of quadrats
with walia pellets were without livestock droppings; 73% of quadrats with livestock droppings did not have walia pellets). The best model to describe probability of presence of walia pellets included effects of herb cover (β = 0.047), shrub cover (β  =   0.030), distance to cliff (β = –0.001), distance to road (β = 0.001), and altitude (β = 0.004). Walia ibexes have shifted to the eastern, steeper areas of the park, appearing to coincide with the occurrence of more intense, human–related activities in lowlands. Our study shows the complexities of managing areas that support human populations while also serving as a critical habitat for species of conservation concern

Keywords

Endemic, Ethiopia, Habitat preference, Simien Mountains, Walia Ibex

Cite

Ejigu, D., Bekele, A., Powell, L., Lernould, J.-M., 2015. Habitat preference of the endangered Ethiopian walia ibex (Capra walie) in the Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia. Animal Biodiversity and Conservation, 38: 1-10, DOI: https://doi.org/10.32800/abc.2015.38.0001

Reception date:

30/09/2013

Acceptation date:

13/01/2015

Publication date:

15/04/2015

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