Francesca de Chenu
Loss of habitat due to agriculture is the largest single threat to non-human primates. In the past conservation has taken a fortress approach, excluding humans and prioritising wildlife, contributing to poor human wellbeing and conflicts as people have been excluded from the places and resources they need to survive. For wildlife populations to continue to exist conservation efforts need to encourage human-wildlife coexistence. To do this effectively we need to develop a greater understanding of the impacts of conservation strategies, such as wildlife corridors.
There is no doubt that wildlife corridors provide benefits for primates through habitat connectivity. However, it is not clear whether the corridors increase crop foraging behaviour by primates. This behaviour can have a detrimental effect on human-primate relations and the relationship between the local community and conservation organisations, both of which leads to conflicts. This may result in lethal measures of control being employed by the farmers if they deem the losses to be significantly detrimental and other crop protection methods have failed. Wildlife corridors are often implemented as a conservation tool, both by plantations and at a larger scale by governments. While some farmers may be aware of the risks and may view any increase in losses as a fair trade-off, especially if they are responsible for implementing the corridor, others may have no control over the corridor and may struggle with the consequences. To date, there is a lack of research into plantation owners’ and small-scale subsistence farmers’ experiences of wildlife corridors and whether these corridors impact farming livelihoods either positively or negatively.
I intend to explore local agricultural producers’ relationships with wildlife corridors to assess the impact, both positive and negative. I will look at whether the corridor has increased the incidence and/or severity of crop foraging by primates beyond tolerable levels but in addition I will assess wider impacts that may not initially be apparent. This will incorporate looking at food security, water security, livelihoods (including any diversifications), attitudes towards the corridor, attitudes towards wildlife (in particular primates), the impact of biodiversity on crop yield and health and perceived social welfare benefits. This research will contribute to the conservation communities’ understanding of the impacts of wildlife corridors to enable them, and similar tools, to be used more effectively in the future to the benefit of both wildlife and the people who share the landscape.
Memberships of professional bodies
Primate Society of Great Britain
MSc Primate Conservation, Oxford Brookes, 2020
Dissertation topic: Adapting Social Science Techniques for Primate Conservation in an Agricultural Setting
BSc (Hons) Wildlife Conservation. University of Kent, 2013
Dissertation topic: Feeding ecology, habitat preferences and activity budgets of the Verreaux’s sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi)