Loss of natural landscapes surrounding major conservation areas compromise their future and threaten long-term conservation. We evaluate the effectiveness of fully and lesser protected areas within Katavi-Rukwa and Ruaha-Rungwa ecosystems in south-western Tanzania to protecting natural landscapes within their boundaries over the past four decades. Using a time series of Landsat satellite imageries of September 1972, July 1990 and September 2015, we assess the extent to which natural habitat has been lost within and around these areas mainly through anthropogenic activities. We also test the viability of the remaining natural habitat to provide connectivity between the two ecosystems. Our analysis reveals that while fully protected areas remained intact over the past four decades, lesser protected areas lost a combined total area of about 5,984 km2 during that period which is about 17.5% of habitat available in 1972. We also find that about 3,380 km2 of natural habitat is still available for connectivity between the two ecosystems through Piti East and Rungwa South Open Areas. We recommend relevant authorities to establish conservation friendly village land use plans in all villages surrounding and between the two ecosystems to ensure long-term conservation of these ecosystems.
|Publication status||Published - 17 Mar 2017|