Land use and land cover changes and their implications for human-wildlife conflicts in the semi-arid range lands of southern Kenya

Land use and land cover changes are important processes that influence the ecological integrity of wildlife dispersal areas and the dynamics of human - wildlife conflicts in rangelands around protected areas. This study investigated trends in both land use a nd land cover changes in Taveta District. Remote Sensing imageries for Taveta District were analysed for the years 1987, 2001, and 2011. Percentage changes in land use and land cover types for the years 1987 to 2001, 2001 to 2011 and 1987 to 2011 were de termined. Between 1987 and 2011, significant (p < 0.05) changes occurred in woodlands, sisal plantations, rainfed and irrigated agricultural areas. Shrublands, forests and water bodies showed no significant changes. Wildlife habitats are expected to furthe r decrease significantly due to agricultural expansion. Land use and cover changes resulted from agricultural expansion and human population growth. The land use and cover maps produced can be used as input to decision making that balances restrictions on human land use while maintaining the ecological function of the landscape, through designation of Zones of Interaction as a first step to identifying opportunities that satisfy conservation and livelihood needs. Proper land use planning and community aware ness of the implications of these land use and land cover changes are necessary.