Habitat fragmentation is a major contributor to human-wildlife conflict. Small “islands” of habitat often don’t have the carrying capacity for the animals that are forced to depend on it, which leads them to wander out into human settlements in search of food. Also, in the case of migratory species, when their migration routes are broken up by man-made structures the species will often continue on these routes, and in doing so, come in contact with humans, cars, homes, and farms.
What’s the solution? The real solution is to account for habitat connectivity when planning on where to put villages, farms, roads, and whatever else. But, this future planning can’t help the places where fragmentation is already a problem. For habitat that is already fragmented, one method is to “unfragment” it. Enter wildlife corridors. Wildlife corridors connect patches of habitat. They can be overpasses, underpasses, swaths of land, backyards etc. In most papers their main purpose is stated as aiding in dispersal and genetic exchange between populations. However, an added perk is that increasing habitat connectivity decreases the need for animals to leave their habitat in the first place, thusly decreasing conflict. Designing these corridors is no small feat though. Their design takes careful planning and a thorough understanding of the target species and their movement patterns. Luckily, there are people out there who devote their time to making these corridors happen:
A Maasai group ranch recently leased some of their land to be designated as a corridor for elephants in Kenya; Panthera has their huge Jaguar Corridor Initiative where they are trying to connect jaguar ranges throughout South America; and a corridor is being planned in California across route 101. And of course there are the hugely successful corridors that have already been trod upon by many paws and hooves. Banff National Park has an overpass and underpass, both shown above (2nd and 3rd pics). In Kenya, a highway underpass as reunited two herds of elephants (bottom picture). There is also the China-Russia Tiger Corridor, established in 2012 for the highly endangered Amur Tiger!