Action: Build fences around protected areas
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- Two studies evaluated the effects on mammals of building fences around protected areas. One study was in Kenya and one was in Mozambique.
COMMUNITY RESPONSE (1 STUDY)
- Richness/diversity (1 study): A before-and-after study in Kenya found that after a fence was built around a protected area, mammal species richness initially increased in both study sites, but subsequently declined at one of the sites.
POPULATION RESPONSE (2 STUDIES)
- Abundance (2 studies): A paired sites study in Mozambique found that inside a fenced sanctuary there were more mammal scats than outside the sanctuary. A before-and-after study in Kenya found that after a fence was built around a protected area, mammal abundance initially increased in both study sites, but it subsequently declined at one of the sites.
BEHAVIOUR (0 STUDIES)
Fences may be constructed around protected areas to keep out poachers or predators, including invasive species (e.g. Hayward & Kerley 2009). They may also prevent other potentially damaging incursions, such as by off-road vehicles that may damage habitat, or casual entry by people on foot who may disturb mammals. Where protected areas are surrounded by land in which there are greater threats to wild mammals, such as persecution of carnivores, fences may reduce losses of such species by preventing them encountering these threats. Possible disadvantages of fences include inhibiting species’ dispersal, potentially leading to reductions in genetic diversity.
Hayward M.W. & Kerley G.I.H. (2009) Fencing for conservation: Restriction of evolutionary potential or a riposte to threatening processes? Biological Conservation, 142, 1–13.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A before-and-after study in 1963–2011 at two montane forest and alpine grassland sites within a conservation area in central Kenya (Masey et al. 2014) found that after installing fencing around the protected area, mammal abundance and species richness increased initially but, at one site, abundance and richness subsequently declined. At both sites, following fence installation around the protected area, a declining trend in mammal abundance and species richness changed to an increasing trend (data reported as model results). However, at one of these sites, eight years after the fence was installed, abundance and species richness had again declined significantly, though there was no significant decline at the other site (data reported as model results). Nightly censuses of wildlife at watering holes and salt licks were carried out between approximately 15:00 h 08:00 h, at two lodges in Aberdare Conservation Area, in 1963–2011. In 1991, fencing was built around the 38 km perimeter of the park closest to the study sites and, by 2009, the entire conservation area was fenced.
A paired sites study in 2014 in a savanna reserve in Sofala, Mozambique (Correia et al. 2017) found that inside a fenced sanctuary there were more mammal scats than outside the sanctuary. More mammal scats were collected inside the fenced sanctuary (268 scats) than outside of it (207 scats). Scats were produced by 24 species, including nine antelope species, at least three carnivores, two primates, blue wildebeest Connochaetes taurinus, zebra Equus quagga, porcupine Hystrix africaeaustralis, scrub hare Lepus saxatilis, warthog Phacochoerus africanus, bushpig Potamochoerus larvatus and African buffalo Syncerus caffer. In June–August 2014, mammal scats were collected along ten 5 km × 5-m transects in Gorongosa National Park. Five transects, >1 km apart, were located inside a 62-km2 fenced wildlife sanctuary and five were located outside of it. The fence was constructed between August 2006 and September 2014. Scats were detected by two observers and the identity of species that produced the scat was determined by direct observation or based on the experience of the local rangers or field guides.
- Massey A.L., King A.A. & Foufopoulos J. (2014) Fencing protected areas: A long-term assessment of the effects of reserve establishment and fencing on African mammalian diversity. Biological Conservation, 176, 162-171
- Correia M., Timóteo S., Rodríguez‐Echeverría S., Mazars‐Simon A. & Heleno R. (2017) Refaunation and the reinstatement of the seed‐dispersal function in Gorongosa National Park. Conservation Biology, 31, 76-85