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The effect of ecotourism on the distribution of wild animals and their abundance in Abijatta Shala Lakes National Park

Master's Thesis 2018 47 Pages

Tourism

Excerpt

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I would like to acknowledge the role of my two supervisors, Dr. Mesgabu Ashagrie and Dr. Shimelis Aynalem and their contribution to this thesis. I am greatly indebted to them for their continuous support, guidance and feedback throughout the research process.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Abijata Shala Lakes National Park staff member for their willingness to share their information and give assistance and support.

I praise my God!

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of ecotourism on wild animals’ distribution and abundance in Abijata Shala Lakes National Park. The study was conducted in Abijata Shala Lakes national park from September 2017 to February 2018. Three sites were selected: tourism destination site, tourism inaccessible site and local livelihood site. Wild animals distribution and abundance, were determined using line transect for mammals and point count for birds. Five selected mammals and six shore birds that frequently visited by tourist were selected. One-way ANOVA was used to compare the mean difference of wild animal’s abundance between sampling site. The abundance and distribution of species in site were variable. The population mean was high in nature intact area for mammals: there were high in mean number of population of mammals: Grant`s gazelles (chi-square = 41.056, df=2, p=0.009), Warthog( chi-square = 37.500, df=2, p=0.028), Greater kudu( chi-square = 18.000, df=2, p=0.00) and Bohor reedbuck( chi-square = 7.167, df=2, p=0.024) and birds: Great White Pelicans ( chi-square = 550.867, df=2, p=0.017), Lesser flamingos ( chi-square = 507.950, df=2, p=0.018), Greater flamingos ( chi-square = 1087.817, df=2, p=0.001), Great cormorant ( chi-square = 329.550, df=2, p=0.000) and Black heron ( chi-square = 372.950, df=2, p=0.004) . However, there were no statistically significant in population mean of Common jackal (chi-square = 3.500, df=2, p=0.08) and African darter (chi-square = 33.517, df=2, p=0.118). Sound management to minimize the ecotourism activities should be taken to account.

Key words: Species distribution, Species abundance, Ecotourism, Mammals, Avifauna.

Contents

1. INTRODUCTION..1

1.1 Background and Justification..1

1.2 Statement of the problem..2

1.3 Objectives..3

1.3.1 General Objective..3

1.3.2 Specific objectives..3

1.4 Research questions..3

2. LITERATURE REVIEW..4

2.1 Impact of ecotourism activities on wild animals..4

2.1.1 Impact ecotourism activities on distribution and abundance of wild animals..5

2.2 Potentially Disturbing Activities..6

2.3 Which Species are concerned?..7

2.4 Levels of Disturbance..7

2.5 Indices of impact Occurrence..7

2.5.1 Impact on spatial distribution..9

2.5.2 Impacts on Populations abundance..10

2.6 Research Perspectives toward Impact of Ecotourism Activities on Wild Animals..10

3. MATERIALS AND METHODS..11

3.1 Description of the study area..11

3.2 Methodology..13

3.2.1 Study design..13

3.2.2 Data collection for species distribution and abundance..13

3.2.3 Field survey on ecotourism and local people activities..14

3.2.4 Data collection on Tourist flow and ecotourism management strategy..14

3.2.4.1 Secondary data analysis..14

3.2.4.2 Expert Interviews..15

3.3 Methods of Data Analysis..15

3.3.1 Distribution of wild animals..15

3.3.2 Estimating relative abundance..15

4. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION..16

4.1 Results..16

4.1.1 Tourist flow and major ecotourism activities taking place in the Park..16

4.1.2 Ecotourism activities and their expected influence..18

4.1.3 Other human activities in Abijata Shala National Park..18

4.1.4 Distribution and abundance of mammals..18

4.1.5 Distribution and abundance of avifauna..23

4.2 Discussion..30

4.2.1 Effect of ecotourism on abundance and distribution of mammals..30

4.2.2 Effects of ecotourism activities on avifauna abundance and distribution..31

4.2.3 Wildlife manager and tourist guide perception on ecotourism effect on wild animals’ distribution and abundance..33

CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION..35

Conclusion..35

Recommendations..36

REFERENCES..37

APPENDICES..40

1. INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background and Justification

In recent years, ecotourism has been touted as a solution for conservation and development because of its contribution to protect threatened biodiversity while providing economic growth for people living in and around protected areas (Buckley et al., 2016). The tourism industry has been growing rapidly along with an increasing interest in nature-based tourism or ecotourism. Ecotourism is defined by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) as “environmentally responsible travel and visitation to relatively undisturbed natural areas, in order to enjoy, study, and appreciate nature (and any accompanying cultural features), that promotes conservation, and has low visitor impact” (IUCN, 1998). While protected natural areas are increasing in popularity as vacation destinations, little information exists on tourism’s impacts on protected areas (Fennell, 2015). With a rapid increase in ecotourism, it is important to determine the impacts which are occurring despite the difficulty of quantifying the parameters.

IUCN stressed the risks imposed associated with tourism activities. "Recent data showed that protected areas around the globe receive 8 billion visitors per year that's like each human on Earth visited a protected area once a year, and then some"( Fennell, 2015).

Animals in protected areas may face stress due to ecotourism. Nature based tourism has great potential for negative impacts on animals, as tourists seek out rare or spectacular species often during sensitive times, such as breeding or nesting (Knight, 2009). Previous studies have found that tourists cause negative impacts on the movement, foraging, and reproductive behavior of large felids, and the distribution of waterfowl (Murray et al., 2016).

Where human traffic is frequent, some species withdraw the habitat, some of them change their behavior, and still others may become habituated to human presence (Cardiff et al., 2012). As animals become habituated to humans, they may use areas where tourists are present as “escape valves” from predators, and human hunters.

Long-term studies often reported that increasing in population size of wild animals caused probably due to decreased predation associated with the presence of human/ researchers when visitor occur in the area (Cardiff et al., 2012). Ecotourism is likely to have a similar impact, particularly where animals are deliberately habituated to human presence for tourist observation. However, the long term effects of human presence may mimic those of hunting, changing community structure due to differences in a species’ vulnerability or attractiveness as prey (Geffroy et al., 2015).

Ecotourism’s impacts may result in abnormally high or low population abundance of some species in tourist destination areas and can potentially lead to ecological change through population increment in the habituated or unaffected species, possibly altering the distribution of their competitors or prey (Geffroy et al., 2015). There may also be long-term consequences of the floristic makeup of an area due to altered patterns of seed dispersal and predation (Cardiff et al., 2012). These changes may have effects on the composition and functioning of the entire ecosystem.

Similar to above mentioned ideas Abjata-Shala national park is one of the great tourist attraction area that is prone to be affected by tourism activities. For instance distribution and abundance of wild animals are parts of tourism destination sites which are influenced by tourism activities. Therefore, the aim of the present study is to quantify and rank the various activities and threat to wild animals, specifically large mammals and water birds, through investigating the relative impact of ecotourism activities and related pressure, while controlling the effect of habitat type.

1.2 Statement of the problem

Nature-based tourism is one of the few economic uses of natural areas that could be compatible with protection of the environment and its wildlife. Tourism can have both positive and negative impacts on economic, cultural and environmental resources depending on circumstances how it has been managed. However, in a poorly managed ecotourism development the demands placed on these natural ecosystems from tourism can destroy or disturb the very attractions the clients are interested to enjoy.

The Abjata-Shala Lake National Park is one of the ecotourism destinations in Ethiopia which aimed to conserve the wildlife. The Park serves as refuge for 436 bird and 76 mammal species (Fekadu Tefera and Rezenom Almaw, 2002). However, except limited areas around the head quarter the park has been highly affected by the community around. On the other hand Abjata-Shala Lake National Park is increasing in popularity as vacation destination. Nevertheless, information on impacts of tourism in the Park, especially on the distribution and abundance of wild animals has not been yet documented. If conservation is the yardstick by which we measure the success of ecotourism, then it is important to determine and measure the impacts of tourists on animal populations; however, they are difficult to quantify.

As a result, this study was investigate how ecotourism activities have been influencing wild animals, as ecotourism either contributes to conservation or negatively affect nature of the destination sites.

1.3 Objectives

1.3.1 General Objective

To investigate effects of ecotourism activities on wild Animal Population abundance and distribution in Abijata-Shala Lake National Park in the case of some selected Animals.

1.3.2 Specific objectives

- To estimate the tourist flow and identify the major ecotourism activities that have been taking place in the Park

- To investigate effects of eco-tourism activities on the distribution of wild animals in purposely selected tourism destination sites and none destination sites

- To estimate the abundance of wild animals in purposely selected tourism destination sites and none destination sites

- To examine the ecotourism management strategies that have been implemented to minimize the negative impact of ecotourism activities on wild animals abundance and distribution

1.4 Research questions

1. How many tourists annually visit the Park? What are the major ecotourism activities that have been taking place in the Park?

2. Do tourist destination sites contribute for distribution of wild animals positively or vice versa?

3. Does tourist destination sites influence on the abundance of wild animals population?

4. Does the current ecotourism management strategy really work to minimize the impact of ecotourism activities on wild animals?

2. LITERATURE REVIEW

2.1 Impact of ecotourism activities on wild animals

Ecotourism and other public recreational activities have been continuously increasing over the past decades, even in the most remote areas of the world. They potentially constitute a new threat to endangered and vulnerable wildlife. The impact of these increasingly popular activities on wildlife is often complex and variable in space and time, with their actual effects still poorly understood (Knight, 2009). Human disturbance, such as repeated flushing events of resting wildlife by people practicing ecotourism activities, may evoke stress responses (Manor, and Saltz, 2003). This is often associated with compensatory non-optimized distribution and abundance, and incurs additional energetic costs.

Repeated disturbance often constrains animals to occupy suboptimal habitats (knight, 2009), and may affect reproductive and survival functions as well as overall fitness (Manor, and Saltz, 2003). The combination of these detrimental effects will ultimately lead to a reduction of local population distribution, if not species abundance (Manor, and Saltz, 2003).

Ecotourism has been espoused widely as a tool for commercial profit, community development and environmental conservation (Buckley et al., 2016). It can indeed achieve all these on occasion. In the process, however, it does produce impacts on the natural environment. In particular, many ecotourism products rely on protected areas, where environmental impacts are of particular concern. As pressure on conservation areas from ecotourism and recreation continues to rise, an understanding of impacts; and ways to manage them becomes increasingly important for land managers and tour operators alike (Buckley et al., 2016).

Ecologists have identified ecotourism as an ecosystem service supporting human populations (Manor, Saltz, 2003), and similarly, recreational opportunities are valued by economists as natural resource amenities driving economic growth and residential development patterns (Knight, 2009). Ecotourism enthusiasts are vocal advocates for land conservation ( Sutherland, 2007 ), and public access is an important platform for generating tax and bond revenue for protected area acquisition through giving opportunity for tourism arrival.

However, ecotourism may not always be compatible with the conservation objectives of land protection. For example, recreational activity correlates with decreases in species abundances and activity levels (Sutherland, 2007), which causes wildlife to flee or avoid otherwise disturb suitable habitat and alters species abundance and distribution (Knight, 2009).

It has also been established that close to human settlement; independent of the increase of ecotourism, the progressive abandonment of traditional farming practices, such as cattle grazing, may further reduce the overall species richness and attractiveness of these habitats for wildlife due to diminished heterogeneity and patchiness of the landscape (Wheeler et al., 2013).

2.1.1 Impact ecotourism activities on distribution and abundance of wild animals

Movement away from recreationists may be more energetically costly in many conditions. For many species, food availability and quality is lower during winter, limiting their ability to relocate to avoid areas with human activity (Wolf and Croft, 2010).

[Figures and tables are omitted from this preview.]

Figure 1 Short-term and long-term impacts of recreation on wildlife

Prediction of abundance and distribution impact depend on habitat typology, Ecotourism activities and other human factors like traditional farming practices, such as cattle grazing(Knight, 2009).

2.2 Potentially Disturbing Activities

Ecotourism activities are numerous, and occur in all types of habitats, either aquatic (coasts, estuaries, marshes and lakes) or terrestrial (almost all of them). These activities mostly differ in terms of their nature, intensity (which can be measured in terms of frequency, i.e. number of events per unit of time, density, i.e. number of events per unit of space, or regularity, i.e. predictability), and periods of occurrence. These differences translate into contrasted importance of the effects and impacts of the disturbance they induce (McKinney, 2014).

These activities can be divided in those practiced with a motor vehicle (motocross, drive car, and boats) and those without. Among the latest, it is possible to distinguish visit activities, mainly associated with eco-tourism (walking with or without a dog, nature observation and photography, etc.), from more water activities like swimming, sailing or windsurfing. Among the vulnerable bird species potentially affected by tourism and leisure activities (Wolf and Croft, 2010).

All these leisure activities can potentially be sources of major income, and are therefore an essential element of local economy. In addition, some of them, like for example nature observation, can be the basis for public information related to environmental questions in general, and the protection of natural habitats and species in particular (Villanueva et al., 2012).

However, the interference of ecotourism activities with wildlife also makes them potential sources of disturbance. Because they are practiced in natural, sometimes protected, habitats, the nuisance caused by these activities may even force animals to leave the area, while these species are precisely those one tries to protect and promote the interest for in the public (Wolf and Croft, 2010).

Protecting biodiversity from potentially harmful effects of recreation is a primary concern for conservation planners and land managers who face increases in park visitation rates; accordingly, there is demand for science-based information to help solve these dilemmas. Ecotourism is commonly assumed to be compatible with biodiversity conservation, in contrast to more well-known threats such as population growth and development at protected area edges or subsistence use within reserves to help sustain local livelihoods but disturbance affect biodiversity that we can’t really measure impacts. Most protected areas have a dual mandate to conserve biodiversity and improve human welfare through resource use or outdoor recreation but effect not easily detected to protected area (McKinney, 2014).

2.3 Which Species are concerned?

To some degree, almost all animal species are sensitive to leisure activities practiced in the habitats they inhabit, and highly specialized species or species with the smallest geographical ranges should especially be so. Among vertebrates, birds, especially water-birds, are the most studied group (Andersen et al., 2012), followed by mammals, while the herpetofauna is very rarely considered (Buckley et al., 2016).

All wildlife species are not equally sensitive to disturbance (McKinney, 2014). Estimating sensitivity is a difficult task, and results for the same species are sometimes contradictory, since they do not only depend on populations and individuals (genetic dispositions, physiological state, individual paradigm, habituation), but also on the period of the year, the physical environment, the study place, etc. Some authors have tried to rank species after their level of susceptibility to disturbance.

In the same way, it is difficult to rate activities after their disturbance levels, for this depends very much on the way they are practiced, their intensity, frequency, as well as local specificities (e.g. topography, history of sites). However, even if results are sometimes contrasted, general patterns nonetheless emerge.

2.4 Levels of Disturbance

The relationships between wildlife and leisure activities show a great variety: in some activities, the contact with animals is more or less sought for (ecotourism, trekking to some extent), while this is less the case for most sports or riding/driving of vehicles, for example. However, most participants look for the “natural” character of the area where they practice their activity, which of course is important in terms of disturbance (Villanueva et al., 2012).

In the same way, because they are associated with greater speed and louder noise, some motor activities like motor boating have been found to be most disturbing, to wildfowl (Anatidae) for example (McLeod et al., 2013).

2.5 Indices of impact Occurrence

The main effect of disturbance, also the easiest to detect, is the change in the behavior of the animals (vigilance), either associated with movement and escape or not. Many studies consider the distance between the source of disturbance and the animal showing a reaction as an estimator of animals’ susceptibility to disturbance (McLeod et al., 2013). For birds, it is thus most generally the distance within which the individual takes flight (McLeod et al., 2013).

However, it has to be kept in mind that the take-off distance of a bird is shorter (30% less on average) than the distance inducing the first change in behavior. For this reason, Fernandez-Juricic et al. (2005) recommend the use of alert distance (“the distance between an animal and an approaching human at which point the animal begins to exhibit alert behaviours to the human”) instead of flight distance, because alert distance encompasses a buffer area in which birds may adapt their reaction to the behavior of visitors. In most studies, the measure of this take-off distance is empirical, through the observation of disturbances and the reaction of animals to it (Wolf and Croft, 2010).

Some studies, however, have a more experimental approach, trying to standardize the disturbance event: for example, the same observer will walk towards flocks of individuals, measuring the distance at which the birds take flight in different circumstances (e.g., McLeod et al. 2013). These distances of reaction allow establishing areas of animal’s susceptibility, in which any stimulus will lead to a change in the distribution and size of individuals.

This consequently corresponds to the undisturbed area necessary to these individuals (Hines, 2011). For example, Knight (2009) estimated that 70% of Bison Bison bison, Mule Deer and Pronghorn Antilocapra americana fled at a distance of 100 m. Another estimator of disturbance is the time necessary for individuals to return to their initial activity, which also provides information on the length of disturbance events (Hines, 2011).

These estimators of disturbance suffer from two main limitations: first, they are highly dependent on local conditions and the nature of the activity, and are therefore hardly transposable to other places and times, as is generally the case of studies dealing with disturbance (Bouton et al., 2005). Secondly, sensitivity and vulnerability are complex questions, which are not always correlated with observed reactions of the individuals. It is therefore difficult to link observed effects and their potentially negative effects on the individual in the longer term (as also underlined by Bouton et al., 2005). Caution should thus always be taken when interpreting observed effects, especially when the aim is to subsequently study impacts at the higher organization level, or implement local policies for the management of disturbance.

Steven, et al. (2011), for example, argue that in some conditions the species most susceptible to disturbance could be those not showing escape responses, if this lack of response is simply constrained by the absence of possible alternative strategies. Individuals from those species therefore would have to suffer the costs of disturbance, while individuals able to move away would simply have to pay the cost of moving away.

2.5.1 Impact on spatial distribution

Because of the movements and potential departures it induces, disturbance linked with leisure activities may affect the spatial distribution of animals as well as, in consequence, their number at particular sites. For example, Killer Whales Orcinus orca are more likely to leave the Ecological Reserve of Robson Bay (Canada) when the number of whale-watching boats increases (Senigaglia et al., 2016), while Golden Plover distribution is affected by trekkers in some areas (Martínez-Abraín et al., 2008).

Generally speaking, most studies show that escape movements lead to local or regional redistribution of individuals towards their concentration in refuge areas (e.g., McKinney, 2014), which can have profound consequences. Following the Ideal Free Distribution, individuals select the most profitable foraging strategy from an energy point of view, selecting both the less costly foraging behavior and the most profitable prey and foraging sites. Disturbance will affect the natural distribution of individuals, mainly through an increase in animal density in refuge areas. This will in most cases lead to higher food depletion rates and interference competition (Sutherland, 2007).

Food access in refuge areas can therefore become the limiting factor of a population while more disturbed areas can remain under-exploited (Corcoran et al., 2013). It may then be the carrying capacity in refuge areas that limits population size (Cooper and Blumstein, 2015). However, it has to be kept in mind that even if local redistributions of individuals are relatively easy to study, it is very difficult to assess regional redistribution, and the consequences of disturbance at this scale. In some studies, conversely, disturbance seems to have very limited effects on movement and distribution of animals (Guillemain et al., 2007). The effect of disturbance on spatial distribution may also profoundly differ between species: upon the approach of tourist activities (McKinney, 2014). Habituation does not only depend on individuals and species, but also on local conditions, especially the nature of the disturbing activity, its intensity and frequency of occurrence, as already stated.

2.5.2 Impacts on Populations abundance

Disturbance affects vital properties of organisms like foraging, maintenance and reproductive

behaviours, energy budgets and spatial distribution. It is therefore very likely that disturbance will also have repercussions at the upper level of population dynamics and distribution (Steven et al., 2011). However, as stressed by these authors this often remains a hypothesis given the difficulty, in complex natural systems, to consider simultaneously all the factors that may have a significant effect on population, and isolate the role of each of them.

Like for effects at the individual level, impacts on populations will strongly depend on species and differ between populations themselves. Of course, the strength of impacts will change with the frequency, intensity and duration of disturbances, the availability of refuges in the environment, but also the social structure of populations. For example, grouping in colonies may increase the vulnerability of populations to disturbance, since one single disturbance event may affect the breeding success of very large numbers of pairs, sometimes even a whole population (an extreme example is given by the mass abandonment of breeding by Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber roseus in the only French colony in the Camargue, Southern France, after a single balloon was blown onto the breeding island (McLeod et al., 2013).

In many water birds, the negative consequences of disturbance for breeding success have been demonstrated, either directly through altered capacity of adults to provision young with food (e.g., African Black Oystercatcher Haematopus moquini in Martínez-Abraín et al ., 2008) or panic in seabird colonies (e.g., Ellenberg et al., 2013), or indirectly through, for example, increased predation rates on clutches (e.g., Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca in Fernández-Juricic et al., 2005).

Disturbance can induce nest abandon, leaving very large numbers of eggs and young unattended from predators, external conditions (e.g. temperature) and foot trampling (Ellenberg et al., 2013). These are similar to the other wild animals in ecotourism site.

2.6 Research Perspectives toward Impact of Ecotourism Activities on Wild Animals

The rapid overview of literature shows that despite studies on wildlife disturbance are numerous, they are still too few to fully understand the whole complexity of disturbance and its long term implications. In particular, the delayed impact of ecotourism disturbance on wild animal populations is almost unknown, while this knowledge will be absolutely necessary to firmly build up appropriate policies.

Fennell, (2015) reviewed needs and gaps in bird disturbance studies, at three different scales: at the local population level, it is necessary to test the efficiency of attenuation measures, and comparative studies before and after disturbance, as well as between disturbed and undisturbed sites, are still needed. At the regional population level, monitoring the movement of disturbed individuals, and focus on periods of the year when individuals are the most likely to be sensitive to disturbance, to assess if regional compensation may occur, are still needed. At the flyway level, the variability of perturbation (especially disturbance) over space and time for models of population dynamics still has to be better taken into account.

Generally speaking, research on disturbance have mainly been conducted through very descriptive, observational and sometimes opportunistic studies. Only very occasionally was the response to disturbance considered while controlling for human activities and other factors of a given site (see however Andersen et al, 2012). Developing such experimental studies seems to be the most crucially needed field of research in the domain of human disturbance for the coming years.

3. MATERIALS AND METHODS

3.1 Description of the study area

The study was conducted in Abijata Shala Lakes National Park which is located about 200 km from Addis Ababa at 7°15ʹ– 7°45ʹ N and 38°30ʹ–38°45ʹ E coordinates in Ethiopian Central Rift Valley. The area is plain but elevation ranges from 1540 m- 2075 m above sea level. The park covers a total area of 887 km2 out of which 405 km2 is the land and 482 km2 is water body (Tolcha Regassa, 2005). The Abijata Shala Lakes National Park has been established predominantly for a bird sanctuary in 1971 (EWNHS, 1996).

[Figures and tables are omitted from this preview.]

Figure 3.1 Location of the study area

The Rift floor is occupied by a series of large lakes fed by perennial rivers originating from adjacent/bordered highlands both to the East and West directions (Tolcha Regassa, 2005). Moreover, geological records from the area showed that there have been great changes on the sizes of the lakes in the past years and other features of the park such as hot springs, cliffs, and lava cave (Tenalem Ayenew, 2001).

The soil is often alluvial and very fine in nature, and is very susceptible to both wind and water erosion and it is maintained by the Acacia-Euphorbia woodland around the lakes (EWNHS, 1996).

The climate of ASLNP is favorable for visitors and residents. Rainfall period is between March, April, June, and September, average 500 mm (CPI, 2000). Average annual temperature is 20.10C; with a mean maximum of 26.60C and mean minimum of 13.50C (EWNHS, 1996).

3.2 Methodology

3.2.1 Study design

3.2.2 Data collection for species distribution and abundance

A preliminary survey was conducted for a period of August 2017 before the actual data collection. Then three study sites were systematically selected.

These three sampling sites were: tourism destination site that is free from local people’s activity, tourism inaccessible sites encroached by local people, and a site, which is free from both ecotourism activities and local people activities. The last sample site was taken as “control area” to investigate effects of ecotourism on the distribution and abundance of wild animals.

To assess impact of ecotourism on the conservation status of wildlife, assessment on mammalian fauna distribution and abundance, only large-sized (weight more than 7 kg (Laura et al, 2016) for five mammals and six birds depending on frequently visited animals species were applied.

At each study site six line transects with a transect line length of one km was used for the mammalian survey. Thus, a total 18 km survey of line transects was conducted. The distance between transect lines was 400 m was applied because in open woodland and shrub-land habitats (Zerihun Girma et al, 2012). The belt of transect length was 400 m the area was open woodland and shrub-land habitats. The mammalian species were identified along the transect line directly. Kingdon (2015) field guide to African Mammals was used. Data collection was carried out from September 2017 to February 2018. During these periods field surveys was conducted in the morning from 07:00 to 11:00 AM and in the afternoon from 2:00 to 5:00 PM.

During data collection on the mammalian species, the number of individuals in each species, habitat type, GPS-point, tourism activities, and local people disturbance were recorded. Besides direct observation, indirect evidences such as fecal droppings/pellet, digging holes, was noted to confirm the distribution of mammals in the sample areas. However, numerical estimation of abundance was done only for direct observation techniques.

Assessment on bird fauna distribution and abundance was conducted in three sampling areas. Data on distribution and abundance of bird species was undertaken by Point counts or point transects was employed. Because, access to the study site (wetland inaccessibility), the terrain and birds behavior (Diefenbach et al . 2003).

Point-count stations were laid out within the study plot in a random manner in area of homogenous habitat but different magnitude of ecotourism and local livelihood activities. The study plot station was marked with GPS. The periods’ field surveys were conducted in the morning from 07:00 to 11:00 AM and in the afternoon from 2:00 to 5:00 PM. Data collection was carried out from September 2017 to February 2018. This was done by counting number of individual per species, ecotourism activities, local livelihood disturbance and frequency of occurrence at each point count and station.

The distance to which birds counted was 50m because the study area is wetland and waterfowl which the species are easily detectible in this interval. The distance between plots was 250 m to avoid much time traveling between counting station. Each study plot had 20 point counts because points count is not suitable for small area. The time length of counting bird species was 5min and 10min (very rich bird fauna or where species were hard to detect or identify) per above described points (Diefenbach et al. 2003).

3.2.4 Field survey on ecotourism and local people activities

To evaluate the effect of ecotourism activities on mammals, qualitative and quantitative variables related to tourism activities and local people activities such as, agriculture/farmland expansion, cattle ranching, tree removal/cutting and settlement during mammalian and avifauna survey were recorded. Along the mammalian transect survey and bird point count survey, and human activities were noted as qualitative information.

3.2.5 Data collection on Tourist flow and ecotourism management strategy

3.2.5.1 Secondary data analysis

Daily, monthly and annual based data about tourist flow in the Park was taken from the head quarter office. Moreover, the Park office’s technical reports, as well as published and unpublished materials of tour operators was analyzed on the following aspects: current tourist flow, legal frameworks for ecotourism management and necessary enforcement necessary for mitigating negative impacts of tourism activities in the Park and yearly revenue obtained from ecotourism activities in the park.

3.2.5.2 Expert Interviews

Expert interviews techniques were conducted to inquiry ecotourism management strategies of the Park. In doing this, some experts who have been working at the management level and serving as expert or staffs were invited to provide information. In conducting the interview both closed ended and open ended questions were used.

3.3 Methods of Data Analysis

Data was analyzed through descriptive statistics and statistical tests. All statistical tests were done at 5% level of significance.

3.3.1 Distribution of wild animals

The distribution of mammalian species among the three sampling sites was considered to evaluate effects of ecotourism on the distribution of wild animals. In investigating this part of the study chi-square test was applied.

3.3.2 Estimating relative abundance

Abundance was estimated as Index of relative abundance or encounter rates. The number of mammals or birds encountered per transect length (Vincent et al.1991,Buckland et al. 1993, Mathot and Doucet 2006, Nazi and Van-Vliet 2011,and Preatoni et al.2012) was computed for the estimation of the abundance of study species in the study area. Then one-way ANOVAs and multi comparison test were used to compare wild animal’s abundance among the three sampling sites.All the analyses were done with SPSS statistical software version 20.

4. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

4.1 Results

4.1.1 Tourist flow and major ecotourism activities taking place in the Park

Round the year large numbers of visitors from different parts of the world visit the park. The mean daily, mean monthly and mean annual tourist flow in the park was 47, 1410 and 17155 respectively (table 4.1). The tourist flow was high in November (1985 tourist) and December (2028 tourist) (appendix table 2). The tourist flow pattern from 2012 through 2016 has been increasing from time to time (fig 4.1).

In Abijata Shala Lakes National Park the mean annual of tourist arrival of five year data (2012-2016) (8300.4). From these 4035 domestic and 5623.6 foreign tourists with mean annual revenue 1763052.7 were recorded.

Table 4.1 Daily, monthly and annually tourist flow in the national park in 2017

[Figures and tables are omitted from this preview.]

Source: park document (Monthly data of tourist flow January, 2016-December, 2017).

Fig4.1 Mean Monthly tourist flow in the national park (2012-2016)

[Figures and tables are omitted from this preview.]

Source: ASLNP Headquarter Office (2017)

Table 4.2 Annual tourist flow and revenues

[Figures and tables are omitted from this preview.]

Source: ASLNP Headquarter Office (2017)

4.1.2 Ecotourism activities and their expected influence

Different tourist activities have been practiced in the park. During the survey, Mr. Fikadu who was tourist guides reported that tourists are interested in different types of recreation activities.

From the most ecotourism activities that tourist experienced, appreciating attractive local cultural materials, bathing the hot spring, Birding and mammals watching, Landscape visiting and photographing animals among the others (park document, 2017).

During expert interview, it was found that, from some of the tourist activities that influence wild animals, visitor’s movement directly toward the animal raised by three key experts among the four of them, use of flash to photograph an animal (two), sudden movement of the visitor nearest to the observed animals(one), shouting, laughing and speaking loudly(two). In other hand, the visitor’s movement directly toward the animal had high influence on wild animals followed by use of flash and shouting, laughing and speaking loudly.

4.1.3 Other human activities in Abijata Shala National Park

Abijata Shala National Park has multiple enactments beside tourism industry such as livelihood practices. Farmer’s traditional agriculture and related practices such as clearing land for settlement expansion, collecting fire wood or selling fuel wood were detected, Soda-ash Company drains off water from Lake Abijata in the commercial production of Trona (soda ash), an industrial input substance were detected.

4.1.4 Distribution and abundance of mammals

The five species of mammals: Grants gazelles (Nanger granti), Common jackal (Canis mesomelas), Common warthog (Phacochoerus africanus), Greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) and Bohor reedbuck ( Redunca redunca)) were recorded.

The total Grant`s gazelles proportion of population found from the three selected site was 105±3.015. From that 30±1.789 (29%) of Grant`s gazelles found in ecotourism site, 32± 2.65(30%) of Grant`s gazelles found in local livelihood area and 43± 4.167(41%) was found in nature intact area. Statistically, there were significant in population distribution of Grant`s gazelles(x2=41.056, df=2, p=0.009) between site. Specifically from the post hoc test the difference in population proportion was detected between ecotourism and nature intact area (x2=41.056, df=2, p=0.045), and between local livelihood and nature intact area (x 2=41.056, df=2p=0.009).

Common jackal population found was 71± 1.200 from the three study site; from those 23± 1.033(32%) was found in ecotourism site, 14± 1.169(20%) was found in local livelihood area and 34±1.033 (49%) was found in nature intact areas. There were no statistically significant population distribution of common jackal (p=0.08) between site(x2=3.500, df=2, p=0.08).

Total Warthog population 89±3.417 individual found in study areas; from that 18± 3.204(20%) were distribute in ecotourism site, 38± 1.966(43%) were found in local livelihood area and 33± 3.251(37%) were found in nature intact area. Warthog population was statistically significant between site (x2=37.500, df=2, p=0.028).

Moreover, the significance difference was detected between the ecotourism site and nature intact area at ((x2=37.500, df=2 p=0.02) and however, there between local livelihood and nature intact at ((x 2=37.500, df=2p=.315). this show us, there was significance difference in distribution of warthog between site.

Analyzed data indicate that total population of Greater kudu found 68±2.45 was from three selected sites. From those 13± 1.15(19%) were found in ecotourism site 17± 1.200(25%) were found in local livelihood area and 38± 1.789(56%) were found in nature intact areas. population of Greater kudu had statistically significant distribution between sites(x2 =18.000, df=2, p=0.00). Furthermore, the significance population distribution was detected between ecotourism site and nature intact (x 2=18.000, df=2, p=0.00), and between the nature intact and local livelihood at (x2=18.000, df=2, p=0.00).

Total population of Bohor reedbuck founded that 44±2.465 population, 11± 1.408(25%) was found in ecotourism site, 14± 1.365(32%) in local livelihood area and 19± 1.633(43%) in nature intact area. And also the population mean of the Bohor reedbuck in selected three sites had statistically significant population between sites (x2=7.167, df=2, p=0.024). In detail, there were significant difference in population of Bohor reedbuck between local livelihood and nature intact area at(x2=7.167, df=2, p=0.019), but there were no significant difference between ecotourism and local livelihood(x2=7.167, df=2, 0.478).

Table. Distribution of mammals

It is important to record abundance of species in ecotourism and local to figure out the effect of ecotourism. The analyzed data indicated that the from total population mean of Grant’s gazelles 105±3.015 per km; more abundant population detected in nature intact area 43±4.167) and the least population was found in ecotourism (30± 1.789) and local livelihood site (32±2.658) (table). There were significant different in mean number of population of Grant`s gazelles(x2=41.056, df=2, p=0.009) between sites. Furthermore, the Grant`s gazelles population mean was significant between ecotourism and nature intact area (x2=41.056, df=2, p=0.045), and between local livelihood and nature intact area (x 2=41.056, df=2, p=0.009).

Common jackal population was 71±1.200 from the three study site; from those the most abundant mean population was detected in nature in ecotourism site (23± 1.033). Statistically, Common jackal had no significant mean population between the sites(x2=3.500, df=2, p=0.08).

Warthog mean total population during survey was 89±3.417 individuals per km. from that 18±3.251 mean population found in ecotourism site, 38±1.966 were found in local livelihood area and 33±3.204 were found in nature intact area. Statistically, there were significant different in mean number of population of Warthog(x2=37.500, df=2, p=0.028). Furthermore, Warthog population mean was significant between the ecotourism site and nature intact area at (x2=37.500, df=2, p=0.02); however, there was no significant mean population between local livelihood and nature intact at (x2=37.500, df=2, p=.315).

Surveys indicate high population mean of Greater kudu was found in nature intact area (38±1.789) per km. there was least population in ecotourism (13±0.809) and local livelihood (17±1.050) per km. The population mean of Greater kudu in selected site also had significant difference between sites (x2=18.000, df=2, p=0.00). Furthermore, there was significant mean population difference between ecotourism site and nature intact (x 2=18.000, df=2, p=0.00), and between the nature intact and local livelihood at (x2=18.000, df=2, p=0.00).

The population of Bohor reedbuck founded that from total 44± 2.465 population per km, 11±0.408 was found in ecotourism site, 14±1.265 in local livelihood area and 19±1.633 in nature intact area. Statistically, Bohor reedbuck population had significant mean difference between sites (x 2=7.167, df=2, p=0.024). furthermore, the population mean of the Bohor reedbuck in selected three sites had significant population difference between local livelihood and nature intact area at(x2 =7.167, df=2, p=0.019), but there were no significant difference between ecotourism and local livelihood(x2=7.167, df=2, p=0.478), and ecotourism and nature intact(x2=7.167, df=2, p=0.173).

Table, abundance of mammals

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Table 4.3

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4.4.

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4.1.5 Distribution and abundance of avifauna

From species found in study area six bird species were recorded and those investigated birds were species that frequently visited by tourist in the park.

Furthermore, Great White Pelicans ((Pelecanus onocrotalus) population of 1177±11.863 was recorded in total, 378±8.867 were recorded in ecotourism site, 310±12.437 were recorded in local livelihood area and 489±12.073 were distributed in nature intact area. Great white pelicans population had statistically significant population between sites (x 2=550.867, df=2, p=0.017). Furthermore, population of Great white pelicans had significance difference between ecotourism site and nature intact (p=.015) but there were no significant difference between local livelihood and nature intact (x2=550.867, df=2, p=.137).

Total population of Lesser-flamingos (Phoenicoparrus minor) that found in three sites was 1939±11.418. From that population, 587±5.571 were distributed in ecotourism site, 631±11.743 were distributed in local livelihood area and 721±13.507 were distributed in nature intact site. Lesser flamingos had statistically significance population between sites(x 2=507.950, df=2, p=0.018). Furthermore, population of Lesser-flamingos were significance difference between ecotourism and nature intact area at (x2=507.950, df=2, p=0.015) and local livelihood and nature intact at (x2=507.950, df=2, p=0.045).

Greater flamingos (Phoenicopterus roseus) population survey indicated that from the total population of 1895±12.808, of which 558±9.961 were distributed in ecotourism site, 590±15.364 were distributed in local livelihood area and 747±7.722 were distributed in nature intact areas. Population of Greater flamingos had statistically significant difference between sites(x2=1087.817, df=2, p=0.001). Moreover, Greater flamingos population had significant difference between ecotourism site and nature intact area at (x2=1087.817, df=2, p=0.000), and between local livelihood and nature intact area at p(x2=1087.817, df=2, p=.024).

Total population of Great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) found in three sites was 429±6.871. From this 73±3.249 were distributed in ecotourism site, 124 ±6.066 were distributed in local livelihood area and 232±8.871 were distributed in nature intact areas. Cormorants had statistically significant population between sites(x2=329.550, df=2, p=0.000). Furthermore, Cormorants population had significance difference between ecotourism site and nature intact area site (x 2=329.550, df=2, p=0.00), and between local livelihood and nature intact areas (x2=329.550, df=2, 0.019).

From conducted survey of Darters population the total population found in three sites was 185±3.964. From this 63±3.200 were distributed in ecotourism site, 73±4.308 were distributed in local livelihood and 49±4.057 were distributed in nature intact area. In statistically, there were no significance difference of African darter Anhinga (melanogaster) rufa population (x2=33.517, df=2, p=0.118) between sites.

And also the population of Black heron was recorded in three site and indicated that from total population of 489±8.496, 101±5.206 were distributed in ecotourism site, 133±5.650 were distributed in local livelihood and 264±11.218 were distributed in nature intact area. Statistically, population of Black heron (Egretta ardesiaca) had significant difference between sites (x2=372.950, df=2, p=0.004). The population of Black heron had also significance difference between ecotourism and nature intact area at (x2=372.950, df=2, p=0.004, p=0.005), and between local livelihood and nature intact area at (x2=372.950, df=2, p=0.004, p=0.028).

Birds are the more susceptible animals to disturbance by human activities. The abundance of birds may change due to activities of tourists and local livelihood. Analyzed result show that, from the total Great White Pelicans population mean of 1177±11.863 found in three sites, 378±8.867 were distributed in ecotourism site, 310±12.437 were distributed in local livelihood area and 489±12.073 were distributed in nature intact area. Population mean of Great White Pelicans had significance difference between sites (x2=550.867, df=2, p=0.017). Furthermore, the population mean of Great white pelicans was had significance difference between ecotourism site and nature intact (x2=550.867, df=2, p=.015) but there were no significant mean difference between local livelihood and nature intact (x2=550.867, df=2, p=.137).The great white pelican was frequently detected during survey (table).

Total population of lesser flamingos that recorded in three sites was 1939±11.474. From those population 587±5.571were distributed in ecotourism site, 631±11.743 were distribute in local livelihood area and 721±13.507 were distributed in nature intact site. Population mean of flamingos had significance difference between sites (x2=507.950, df=2, i.e. p=0.018). Moreover, the population of Lesser-flamingos had significance difference in mean population between ecotourism and nature intact area at (x2=507.950, df=2, p=0.015) and local livelihood and nature intact at (x2=507.950, df=2, p=0.045), but there was no significance difference in population of Lesser-flamingos between ecotourism and local livelihood (x2=507.950, df=2, p=.893). Population of lesser flamingos was commonly distributed throughout the sites9table).

Greater flamingos population record indicated that from the total population of 1895±12.808, 558±9.961were distributed in ecotourism site, 590±15.364 were distributed in local livelihood area and 747±7.722 were distributed in nature intact areas. Statistically, Greater flamingos population had significant mean population between site (x2 =1087.817, df=2, p=0.001). Furthermore, Greater flamingos population had significant difference between ecotourism site and nature intact area at (p=0.000), and between local livelihood and nature intact area at p(.024), but there were no significant difference between ecotourism site and local livelihood at(p=0.212). Greater flamingos’ population recorded commonly throughout sites (table).

Survey indicated that the total population of Cormorants found in three sites was429±6.871. From this 73±3.249 were distributed in ecotourism site, 124±6.066 were distributed in local livelihood area and 232±8.035 were distributed in nature intact areas. Statistically, population of cormorants had significant difference in mean population between sites(x2 =329.550, df=2, p=0.000). Cormorants population had significance mean difference between ecotourism site and nature intact area (x2 =329.550, df=2, p=0.00), and between local livelihood and nature intact areas (x2=329.550, df=2, 0.019) but there were no significance difference in population of Cormorants between ecotourism and local livelihood (x2=329.550, df=2, p=0.390). The population was uncommon throughout the sites (table).

From conducted survey of Darters population the total population found in three sites was 185±3.964. From this 63±3.200 were distributed in ecotourism site, 73±4.057 were distributed in local livelihood and 49±4.057 were distributed in nature intact area. There were no significance difference mean number of African darter Anhinga (melanogaster) rufa population (x2=33.517, df=2, p=0.118). The Darter population was uncommon throughout recorded site.

Population of Black heron was surveyed in three sites and indicated that from total population of 489±8.496, 101±5.206 were distributed in ecotourism site, 133±5.650 were distributed in local livelihood and 264±11.218 were distributed in nature intact area. And statistically, there was mean difference in population of Black heron between the sites (x 2=372.950, df=2, p=0.004). The population of Black heron had also significance mean difference of population between ecotourism and nature intact area at (x2=372.950, df=2, p=0.005), and between local livelihood and nature intact area at (x2=372.950, df=2, p=0.028). The population of Black heron was uncommon throughout sites.

Table abundance of birds (the number of birds per encounter time)

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Table 4.5 abundance of birds

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Table 4.6 abundance of birds

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4.2 Discussion

4.2.1 Effect of ecotourism on abundance and distribution of mammals

Ecotourism is often considered environmentally friendly, but it has the potential to cause various negative effects on populations, behavior and distribution (Fennell, 2015).

Population of Grant`s gazelles, Warthog, Greater kudu and Bohor reedbuck distributed high in nature intact area. Further, Grant`s gazelles, Warthog, Greater kudu and Bohor reedbuck had significant difference in ecotourism. This could be related to existence of ecotourism activities practiced in the study site. McLeod et al., (2013), also report that tourist vehicles sometimes sound more that antelope move farther from that habitat and they speculate that this may cause great change of distribution between ecotourism site and area free from ecotourism. Result also indicated that, among the investigated species Greater kudu and Grant`s gazelles had significant in local livelihood site. Knight (2009), figure out from experiment that, individuals that are subject to disturbance will spend less time feeding or resting, and more energy on trying to move away from the source of disturbance, perhaps shifting to more remote area.

However, population of Common jackal counted in ecotourism site and local livelihood had no significant different from nature intact site. Villanueva et al., (2012), reach similar conclusion that ecotourism under the same magnitude of disturbance from the ecotourism activities some species have neutral response to tourist activities (for instance, American woodchucks (Marmota monax)).

The design of study did not address the mechanisms of ecotourism in affecting behavioral response in ecotourism site; however, prior researchers have documented various behavioral responses of wildlife species to recreational disturbances, including flight (McKinney, 2014), avoidance (Knight 2009), and reduction in habitat use (Guillemain et al., 2007). Relating to this finding once species receive those threats from unwise ecotourism activities there is no doubt that abundance of the species is decreased in ecotourism site.

Abundance of population is related to ecotourism activities and local livelihood. This finding indicated that Population of Grant`s gazelles, Greater kudu and Bohor reedbuck were abundant in nature intact area but it found least in ecotourism site; and population of Grant`s gazelles, warthog, Greater kudu and Bohor reedbuck found least in local livelihood. Uniquely, the population of warthog was high in ecotourism site. However, the population of Common jackal was neutral from ecotourism effect and local livelihood i.e. population distribution hadn’t show significant change in contrast to nature intact. This show us ecotourism activities coupled with local livelihood had negative effect on abundance of mammals. Therefore, management strategy to minimize effect should be applied.

4.2.2 Effects of ecotourism activities on avifauna abundance and distribution

Abijata Shala Lakes National Park is best the bird watching area in the country and the tourist interested to visit park is increasing through time (fig 4.1). From many birds found in park the research selection was recorded on species abundance and distribution that frequently visited in the park (Great White Pelicans, Lesser flamingos, Greater flamingos, Cormorants, Darters and Black heron). Even if determining the magnitude of effect and deciding whether they are positive, negative or neutral can be a difficult task survey of the abundance of birds in case of selected birds such as Great white pelicans, Lesser-flamingos, Greater flamingos, Cormorants and Black heron but Darters were applied.

Form the species that tourists were interested to visit is Great white pelicans. The great white pelican colony is estimated to be visited by up to 13,000 pairs annually at the shore of Lake Shala. There are plans to install a boat at the lake which will ferry small groups of people to the islands to observe the breeding colonies of thousands of great while pelicans and grater flamingoes, and is the most important breeding site for the species in the world (park document, 2017).

The population of Great white pelicans had significance difference in ecotourism site. Further interpretation; this indicated that ecotourism activities had significant effect on Great white pelican’s population distribution. However, local livelihood had no significant effect on distribution of Great white pelicans. Additionally, during survey researcher seen that several pelicans were flee (move) to other site once tourists were come close over the nearest distance because tourist are keen to see the flock of pelicans. As results shown us the population abundance of Great white pelicans was altered in ecotourism site though the pelicans were seen frequently all over the sites. It describes the effect of ecotourism as consistent, because it observed that the abundance of Great white pelicans was decrease in ecotourism site than area free from ecotourism in the park. Martínez-Abraín et al., (2008), see that once they disturbed, flock of Great white pelicans will shift to the far side of a lake (they didn’t back for a day) and such disturbance result in loss of energy when they fly on open water to reach other far destination and stop feeding for while among others.

Result shows us, Ecotourism and local livelihood site had significant difference population distribution of Lesser-flamingos and Greater flamingos. Even though, the population was seen commonly all over the recorded sites high population recorded in nature intact area. These indicate that ecotourism activities and local livelihood had significant effect on distribution and abundance Lesser-flamingos and Greater flamingos.

Some literature also stress that, Greater and Lesser flamingos is gregarious in nature and feed in groups; then, one single disturbance event may affect whole population (flee, breeding among others) i.e. once tourist disturb the single individual, the whole flamingo flee to other place. As these activities repeat they change their site to tourist free area((an extreme example is given by the mass abandonment of breeding by Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber roseus in the only French colony in the Camargue, Southern France, after a single balloon was blown onto the breeding island, McLeod et al., 2013). Additionally, during study it was detected that huge flock of Greater and Lesser flamingos feeding at shore of lakes by in shallow water to find out food and while them feeding once any sound heard they flee without any checking what was happen. Anderson, (2005) also report that, Sometimes effects are immediate and obvious, such as cranes flying into power lines to escape human presence, but others can be subtle, with effects accumulating gradually and ultimately becoming serious.

Along the point transect cormorant population had significant different ecotourism and local livelihood sites Cormorants population had significance difference population distribution. This was related to influence tourist and local livelihood. Moreover, during survey it was seen that at main gate of Shala Lake tourists were directly invited to the areas where huge flock of cormorants roost on old wood and rock to dry their body along the edge of lake. Local tourists and children who look after cattle also chase and through stone toward bird therefore most birds were seen around the Fike hill. Cormorants were uncommon throughout the sites the high abundance was found in Chitu Lake.

Similarly, the result of this thesis proved that darter population had no significant population difference in both ecotourism and local livelihood site. In contrast, no significant population mean was recorded throughout sites. This show that Darter population abundance and distribution had not significant affected. Analysis had also revealed that ecotourism activities had no significant affect on population abundance of Black heron i.e. ecotourism activities had no contribution to population distribution and abundance. However, Local livelihood had significant influence on population abundance of Black heron when compared to control site. Manor, and Saltz, (2003), made Similar conclusion that the effects of tourists on animals distribution appears to be species specific, with some species increasing in the tourist area, some decreasing, and others not being affected.

4.2.3 Wildlife manager and tourist guide perception on ecotourism effect on wild animals’ distribution and abundance

Tour guide perception on ecotourism effect on the distribution and abundance of wild animals were also asked during the survey. The tourist guide Mr. Fikadu interview notes “I guide tourist daily by showing the wild animals found in the park including bird watching but, in fact animals were disturbed during visiting and approaching directly and we are facing long distance travel to see animals because they need undisturbed area for their breeding, forage and rusting.” Mr. Fikadu also interviewed that from the activities practiced in the park direct approaching to animals, loud speaking, car voice and speed, short distance for photographing birds were the most negatively effect of ecotourism in the park. Team of scout also told, most of tourist are satisfied when they see birds and animals from short distance, but the animals response the movement and flee from their forage and habitat specially from mammal Grants gazelles and from birds Great white pelican, and Lesser and Greater flamingos.

Beside ecotourism effect on wild animals in the park experts were also interviewed on other issue on human activities that influence the distribution and abundance of wild animals. Natural resource manager Mr. Feyisa interviewed, that local livelihood was the very problem they had in the park because farmers were living in the park and their livelihood was depend on park like grazing of cattle, fire wood collection, farm land among others. As interviewed manager Mr. Feyisa notice, “out of local livelihood our parks also influenced by different company like soda ash, irrigation on Hora Kalo and Bulbula River.”

Beside this, during survey the information on ecotourism activities and the response of animals to tourist activities were also determined.

Table (4..) indicate that as practiced with animals, the animals disturbed and change their habitat to far areas that free from tourist activities. Further, repeatedly received tourist activities make animals more disturb animals daily activities like forage time, energy loss, vigilance i.e. stop feeding and flee to other place. These result animals show avoidance response of animals to other area that free from ecotourism activities and their abundance also decrease in ecotourism site.

Different researcher also come up with the same result that, the presence of tourists causes a greater number of take-offs in roosting fruit bats ( Cardiff et al., 2012), while antelopes avoid waterholes where tourists have been (Wolf and Croft, 2010).

Table.4.7 Description of human actions and reactions of the large mammals and birds evaluated during ecotourism activities in the Abijata Shala Lakes National Park.

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CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION

Conclusion

There were no research studies about ecotourism negative effect on wild animals though tourist flow is high in Ethiopian national parks. But in relation to this issue, studies have been conducted in protected areas or national parks in the world for areas receive tourists frequently to detect the negative effect and guide to tourist in the park (Green Ronda, 2015). Abijata Shala Lakes National Park is hosting very large numbers of tourism visitor’s activities that related to wildlife tourism and tourist flow is increasing from time to time (fig.4.1). But, the effect of ecotourism activities on wildlife is undermined.

In this paper the effect of ecotourism was investigated on distribution and abundance of wild animals specifically on selected mammals(Grants gazelles (Nanger granti), Common jackal (Canis mesomelas), Common warthog (Phacochoerus africanus), Greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) and Bohor reedbuck (Redunca redunca)); and water birds(Great White Pelicans(Pelecanus onocrotalus), Lesser flamingos(Phoenicoparrus minor), Greater flamingos(Phoenicopterus roseus, Great cormorant ( Phalacrocorax carbo) and Black heron(Egretta ardesiaca) and African darter Anhinga (melanogaster) rufa). From these species mammals species (Grants gazelles (Nanger granti), Common warthog (Phacochoerus africanus), and Greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros); and water birds (Great White Pelicans (Pelecanus onocrotalus), Lesser-flamingos (Phoenicoparrus minor), Greater flamingos (Phoenicopterus roseus, Great cormorant ( Phalacrocorax carbo) and Black heron (Egretta ardesiaca) the distribution and abundance of population were significantly affected by ecotourism activities. additionally, beside the ecotourism activities local livelihood activities were also cause significant effect on distribution and abundance of population. However, Bohor reedbuck ( Redunca redunca) population abundance and distribution was affected by local livelihood but ecotourism activities had no significant negative effect on Common jackal (Canis mesomelas) and African darter (Anhinga (melanogaster) rufa) population abundance and distribution.

Based on finding of the study, significance difference between in population distribution and abundance coupled with expert interview show that, beside livelihood activities, ecotourism activities were influencing the spatial distribution and abundance of wild animals in the Abijata Shala National Park.

The design of study did not address the mechanisms of ecotourism in affecting behavioral response in ecotourism site; however, prior researchers have documented various behavioral responses of wildlife species to recreational disturbances, including flight (McKinney, 2014), avoidance (Knight 2009), and reduction in habitat use (Guillemain et al., 2007). Relating to this finding once species receive those threats from unwise ecotourism activities there is no doubt that distribution and abundance of the species is decreased in ecotourism site compared to ecotourism free site.

Recommendations

From this research finding the following recommendation are forwarded:

Since ecotourism depends on wildlife, it will destroy itself and wildlife if the tourism industry and tourism-related activities is left unchecked and uncontrolled by the relevant authorities. If wildlife is lost further, not only the wildlife that suffers, but also the ecotourism industry as well as on other tourism-related industries such as the transportation, hotels and accommodations, food and restaurants, banking, and various leisure and entertainments services(Green Ronda, 2015).

Ø Therefore, if ecotourism is to benefit wildlife and the tourism industry, measures need to be taken to study the long-term effects of nature viewing on wildlife ecosystems, dynamics of the wild species and their environment, and a thorough knowledge of the wild species and their behavior.

Ø In Abijata Shala Lakes National park there are critical breeding and nesting periods when animals are most vulnerable reasonably suspected for particular species especially great white pelicans(pelicans breeding island), Lesser-flamingos and Greater flamingos(Chitu lake). In such areas and during those periods, appropriate restriction of ecotourism activities should be enforced.

Ø Common management relating to behavior of wildlife tourists include: keeping noise levels low or avoiding sudden noises, maintaining a specified minimum distance between visitors and wildlife, and avoiding touching or feeding of animals should be undertaken. For example, the minimum distance from which visitors are allowed to view sea lions at Seal Bay is 6m (Wolf and Croft, 2010).

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APPENDICES

Appendix 1: Questions asked of key experts from Abijata Shala Lakes National Park

[Figures and tables are omitted from this preview.]

Details

Pages
47
Year
2018
ISBN (Book)
9783668709461
File size
922 KB
Language
English
Catalog Number
v426846
Institution / College
Bahir Dar University – Bahir dar university
Grade
Tags
abijatta shala lakes national park

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Title: The effect of ecotourism on the distribution of wild animals and their abundance in Abijatta Shala Lakes National Park