A GIS based habitat suitability analysis of the Oribi antelope in KwaZulu-Natal.
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Geographic information systems and remotely sensed information provide an analytical platform for linking habitat features and animal distribution in a spatial context. The spatial culmination of such data using geographic information systems technologies is an important step towards providing information to decision makers on habitat suitability and the mapping thereof. Through the use of such techniques, environmental factors indicative of suitable habitat of the endangered oribi antelope were mapped within the extent of KwaZulu-Natal. The factors and individual weights were identified through multi criteria evaluation using analytical hierarchical process and expert knowledge. The resultant suitability indexed model provided a basis for cost distance procedures and was used to identify potential habitat corridors. An oribi conservation area network was created using these potential corridors and further cost distance functions. The Karkloof and Chelmsford conservation area networks reported the greatest concentrations of highly suitable habitat and therefore with reference to oribi specific habitat recommendations, draft management recommendations were collated.