The effect of bushfires on abundance and diversity of mammals in miombo woodlands under different forest tenure, Kilombero district Tanzania
Sokoine University of Agriculture
Miombo woodlands are the largest savanna in the world and dominate southern Africa. They support the livelihoods of over 100 million people and are strongly influenced by anthropogenic fires. This study was conducted with the overall objective of determining the effect of bushfires on mammals in miombo woodlands under different forest tenure systems. Household questionnaires, checklist of probe questions for key informants, participant observation, PRA techniques and field inventory were employed in data collection. Data collected during PRA were analyzed with the help of the local communities. Content and structural-functional analysis techniques were applied to qualitative data and information. Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSSs) software was used to analyze quantitative data. Microsoft excel software tools were used to analyze mammals stocking data collected through inventory. Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was used to test whether there were significant differences between the mean numbers of mammals obtained from different forest tenure systems. Shannon - Wiener Index (H‟) was used to determine species diversity of mammal species from different forest tenure systems. The results indicated that the main causes of bushfires in miombo woodlands was due to farm preparation 44.5%, charcoal making 21.1% and hunting wild animals 18.9%. Illegal timber harvesting and honey harvesting were considered as minor causes. In most cases the total numbers of mammals in a given area were higher in Central Governmental Forest Reserve followed by Local Government Forest Reserve and the least in Village Forest Reserve. However for the diversity indices, the mildly burned blocks in the Central Governmental Forest Reserve were 3.2 while in the Village Forest Reserve it was 2.0 and in the Local Government Forest Reserve it was 1.6. For moderately burned blocks the diversity index value for the Central Governmental Forest Reserve and Village Forest Reserve were similar which were 2.0 while it was 1.6 in the Local Government Forest Reserve. For the severely burned blocks the diversity values were 1.5 for the Central Governmental Forest Reserve, 1.4 in the Village Forest Reserve and 1.2 in the Local Government Forest Reserve. Mammals with low fire escape rate such as rock hyrax were more severely affected by bushfires. It is, therefore being recommended that the current Local Government Authority management regimes should be strengthen to ensure increased local community participation with more effective law enforcement measures so as to rescue the forests from degradation. Communities should, similarly be empowered with credit facilities and support on income generating activities so as to reduce dependence on miombo woodlands.
Bushfires, Mammals, Miombo woodlands, Forest tenure, Kilombero district, Tanzania