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Reconciling Landscape Fragmentation and Hippopotamuses Population Decrease in Virunga National Park Wetland

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Document pages: 14 pages

Abstract: Wetlands have been noted to be beneficial worldwide. Despite wetlands being a natural asset that is of great significance to the human community, they are threatened by human and natural events. In Virunga National Park (VNP) wetlands are the habitat of Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) which are among the animal species threatened by extinction in VNP since the past few decades. As shown by the last studies the number of Hippos population declined for 96 for the period of less than 40 years. This study evaluated landscape fragmentation status and its implication on the decline of the hippos population in VNP wetland for the period from 1990 to 2018. This study’s land cover data was obtained using remote sensing techniques with the help of software package ERDAS IMAGINE v16.6 and ArcGIS v10.3. It was mapped and classified using the maximum likelihood supervised classification technique. The landscape was classified into seven classes, which included Cropland, Forest, grassland, wetland, scrubland, bare area, and water. Satellite data (Landsat) was used to evaluate NDVI and NDWI and finally the landscape patterns in the study were analyzed using Fragstats 4.2, which was also used to calculate landscape indices for the respective periods. The results obtained from the LULC, NDVI, NDWI and the landscape metrics showed that during the period of our study the VNP wetland was fragmented. A strong negative correlation between the number of hippos and the wetland’s LFI (Landscape Fragmentation Index) values showed that wetland fragmentation was one of the reasons of the decline of Hippos in the park.

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