Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Koedoe]]> vol. 50 num. 1 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Fifty years oF Koedoe</b>: <b>current status and future directions</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>The recent fire history of the Table Mountain National Park and implications for fire management</b>]]> This paper provides an assessment of fire regimes in the Table Mountain National Park over the past four decades. We compiled a GIS database of all fires between 1970 and 2007 and analysed the fire regime in terms of the frequency, season and size of fires and the relationship between fire occurrence and fire weather. Most fires (90.5% of area burnt) occurred in summer and autumn, the ecologically acceptable season for fires. However, mean fire return intervals declined by 18.1 years, from 31.6 to 13.5 years, between the first and last decades of the record respectively. The area subjected to short (< six years) intervals between fires covered > 16% of the park in the last two decades of the record, compared to ~ 4% in the first two decades. A relatively small number of large fires dominated in terms of area burnt. Of the 373 fires recorded, 40 fires > 300 ha burnt 75% of the area, while 216 fires &lt; 25 ha burnt 3.4% of the area. Fires occurred under a wide range of weather conditions, but large fires were restricted to periods of high fire danger. Prescribed burning was a relatively unimportant cause of fires, and most (> 85%) of the area burnt in wildfires. Areas subjected to short fire return intervals should be considered for management interventions. These could include the re-establishment of extirpated fire-sensitive species, the clearing of invasive alien plants and increased precautions for the prevention or rapid suppression of future accidental fires. <![CDATA[<b>A checklist of the spiders (Arachnida, Araneae) of the Polokwane Nature Reserve, Limpopo Province, South Africa</b>]]> As part of the South African National Survey of Arachnida (SANSA), spiders were collected from all the field layers in the Polokwane Nature Reserve (Limpopo Province, South Africa) over a period of a year (2005-2006) using four collecting methods. Six habitat types were sampled: Acacia tortillis open savanna; A. rehmanniana woodland, false grassland, riverine and sweet thorn thicket, granite outcrop; and Aloe marlothii thicket. A total of 13 821 spiders were collected (using sweep netting, tree beating, active searching and pitfall trapping) represented by 39 families, 156 determined genera and 275 species. The most diverse families are the Thomisidae (42 spp.), Araneidae (39 spp.) and Salticidae (29 spp.). A total of 84 spp. (30.5%) were web builders and 191 spp. (69.5%) wanderers. In the Polokwane Nature Reserve, 13.75% of South African species are presently protected. <![CDATA[<b>Measurement of concentrations of faecal glucocorticoid metabolites in free-ranging African elephants within the Kruger National ParK</b>]]> During the past several years, non-invasive monitoring of steroid metabolites in faeces of elephants has become an increasingly popular technique to generate more information about the causal relationship between hormones and behaviour in both living elephant species. This is important knowledge which can be used to optimise local conservation and wildlife management by finding new strategies for better elephant population management and control. In this context, however, information about an actual involvement of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis during assumable stressful events is still limited, especially for wildlife populations. One difficulty in discovering such information is often the lack of reliable data for hormone baseline levels. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine baseline concentrations of faecal glucocorticoid metabolites that could be expected within age classes and between seasons in African elephants (Loxodonta africana) in the Kruger National Park (KNP). a total of 374 faecal samples were collected from randomly located family herds in the southern KNP between May 2002 and August 2005. The samples were analysed for immunoreactive concentrations of faecal glucocorticoid metabolites using a validated enzyme immunoassay for 3α,11oxo-cortisol metabolites (3α,11oxo-CM). All samples were grouped according to the estimated age class of the subject using a field method based on bolus diameter, and regarding the ecological season collected. No significant differences in faecal 3α,11oxo-CM concentrations were found across age classes (H3 = 7.54; p = 0.057), but the mean 3α,11oxo-CM concentration of samples collected in the dry season (n = 196) was significantly higher than in the wet season (n = 178) (u = 15206.50; p = 0.032), which indicates a possible physiological stress situation due to a decline in food quantity and quality. The information generated in this study represents a reliable data set for baseline concentrations of faecal glucocorticoid metabolites for elephants within the KNP and can be used to measure the stress-related effects of translocations, management actions and the impact of chosen land use activities. <![CDATA[<b>An assessment of the implementation and outcomes of recent changes to fire management in the Kruger National Park</b>]]> This paper reviews recent changes in fire management in the Kruger National Park, and assesses the resulting fire patterns against thresholds of potential concern. In 2002, a lightning-driven approach was replaced by an approach that combined point ignitions with unplanned and lightning fires. The approach aimed to burn an annual target area, determined by rainfall and fuel conditions, in point-ignition fires of different sizes. Most of the original fire-related thresholds of potential concern (TPCs) were incorporated into the new approach. The annual target area to be burnt ranged from 12 to 24% of the park between 2002 and 2006. The total area burnt generally exceeded the targets each year, and management fires accounted for less than half of the total area burnt. The fire regime was dominated by very large fires (> 5 000 ha) which accounted for 77% of the total area burnt. New TPCs were developed to assess whether the fire regime encompassed a sufficient degree of variability, in terms of fire intensity and the spatial distribution of burnt areas. After assessment and adjustment, it appears that these TPCs have not yet been exceeded. The point-ignition approach, and its evaluation in terms of variability and heterogeneity, is based on the untested assumption that a diverse fire regime will promote biodiversity. This assumption needs to be critically assessed. We recommend that the practice of point ignitions be continued, but that greater efforts be made to burn larger areas earlier in the season to reduce large and intense dry-season fires. <![CDATA[<b>Major vegetation types of the Soutpansberg Conservancy and the Blouberg Nature Reserve, South Africa</b>]]> The Major Megetation Types (MVT) and plant communities of the Soutpansberg Centre of Endemism are described in detail, with special reference to the Soutpansberg Conservancy and the Blouberg Nature Reserve. Phytosociological data from 442 sample plots were ordinated using a DEtrended CORrespondence ANAlysis (DECORANA) and classified using TWo-Way INdicator SPecies ANalysis (TWINSPAN). The resulting classification was further refined with table-sorting procedures based on the Braun-Blanquet floristic-sociological approach of vegetation classification using MEGATAB. Eight MVT's were identified and described as Eragrostis lehmanniana var. lehmanniana-Sclerocarya birrea subsp. caffra Blouberg Northern Plains Bushveld, Euclea divinorum-Acacia tortilis Blouberg Southern Plains Bushveld, Englerophytum magalismontanum-Combretum molle Blouberg Mountain Bushveld, Adansonia digitata-Acacia nigrescens Soutpansberg Arid Northern Bushveld, Catha edulis-Flueggia virosa Soutpansberg Moist Mountain Thickets, Diplorhynchus condylocarpon-Burkea africana Soutpansberg Leached Sandveld, Rhus rigida var. rigida-Rhus magalismontanum subsp. coddii Soutpansberg Mistbelt Vegetation and Xymalos monospora-Rhus chirendensis Soutpansberg Forest Vegetation. <![CDATA[<b>Invasive alien freshwater snail species in the Kruger National Park, South Africa</b>]]> An account is given of all invasive alien freshwater snail species samples found in the Kruger National Park currently on record in the National Freshwater Snail Collection (NFSC) database. This report mainly focuses on samples collected during surveys of selected water bodies in the Kruger National Park (KNP) during 1964, 1995, 2001 and 2006. The progress made by four alien invasive freshwater snail species, Lymnaea columella, Physa acuta, Aplexa marmorata and Tarebia granifera, in colonising water bodies since first being recorded in the KNP is addressed. The results clearly show that all four species are in the process of becoming more widespread than they were when first recorded. However, T. granifera is the only one of these species of which exceptionally dense populations were encountered in several water bodies. All indications are that this species could already have had a negative impact on the species diversity of molluscs in these water bodies, and it is recommended that the situation be closely monitored. <![CDATA[<b>Applying economic guidelines for responsible tourism in a World Heritage Site</b>]]> This article proposes an integrated sustainable tourism development strategy for the Vredefort Dome as a World Heritage Site. In particular, it analyses the integration of the South African guidelines for responsible tourism applied to a local community. All tourism product owners in the Dome area formed part of this research that was conducted by means of a survey. The strategy that was formulated for the area aims to ensure that future generations will be able to utilise the resources in the same manner as the present generation. It is indicated that this intra-generational equity will only be possible through an integrated approach. The value of this research is its contribution to responsible tourism and, concurrently, its emphasis on the fact that tourism destinations in South Africa need to be developed in an integrated and sustainable manner. In order for the Vredefort Dome to be a World Heritage Site, and to exist as a protected area, it is imperative that the tourism product owners in the area realise their roles as custodians of this precious site. This proposition leads to the main aim of this study, namely to develop an integrated tourism development strategy for the Vredefort Dome as a World Heritage site. The results of the empirical study indicated that tourism stakeholders are prepared to improve the present situation in the Vredefort Dome and are willing to adjust their business practices in the future. Such changes in practice involve some strategic issues, and the economic, social and environmental strategies will give direction to this World Heritage Site to become more sustainable. <![CDATA[<b>Vegetation of the Hantam-Tanqua-Roggeveld subregion, South Africa. Part 1</b>: <b>fynbos biome related vegetation</b>]]> The Succulent Karoo Hotspot stretches along the western side of the Republic of South Africa and Namibia. A lack of botanical information on the Hantam-Tanqua-Roggeveld area of the Succulent Karoo Hotspot was identified during the SKEP (Succulent Karoo Ecosystem Plan) process. A grant from CEPF (Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund) funded a study to produce a vegetation map of the area to serve as baseline for ecosystem management. Vegetation surveys were conducted over an area of more than three million hectares from August to October 2004. Two major floristic units were identified, namely the Fynbos Biome related (Mountain Renosterveld) and Succulent Karoo Biome related units. An analysis of the floristic data of the predominantly Mountain Renosterveld vegetation unit is presented in this paper. Three associations were identified, which were subdivided into nine subassociations, one of which contains four variants. The vegetation units are described in terms of their species composition and their relationships with the physical environment. A vegetation map is provided depicting the geographical distribution of the different vegetation types. The main threat to the vegetation of the region identified by the farming community was a lack of infrastructure. <![CDATA[<b>Analysis of the vegetation of the sandstone ridges (Ib land type) of the north-eastern parts of the Mapungubwe National Park, Limpopo Province, South Africa</b>]]> The establishment of the Mapungubwe National Park has been an objective of several conservationists for many years. The ultimate objective is that this park should become a major component of a Transfrontier National Park shared by Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa. The aim of this study was to identify, classify and describe the plant communities present in the Ib land type of the park. Sampling was done by means of the Braun-Blanquet method. A total of 48 stratified random relevés were sampled in the Ib land type. All relevé data were imported into a TURBOVEG database, after which the numerical classification technique TWINSPAN was used as a first approximation. Subsequently, Braun-Blanquet procedures were used to refine data and a phytosociological table was constructed, using the visual editor, MEGATAB. Two plant communities and several subcommunities and variants were identified and described from the phytosociological table. <![CDATA[<b>Vegetation description of the Doornhoek section of the Mountain Zebra National Park (MZNP), South Africa</b>]]> The Mountain Zebra National Park (MZNP) has been extended over the last couple of years. One of the newly procured areas is the Doornhoek section, which had been adjacent to the park. To develop scientifically sound management programmes for conservation areas, it is essential that an inventory of their natural resources be undertaken. The aim of this study was to classify, describe and map the vegetation of the Doornhoek section of the park. The floristic data were analysed in accordance with the Braun-Blanquet procedures using the BBPC suite. The data analysis resulted in the identification of eight communities, which can be grouped into seven major community types (Rhus lucida-Buddleja glomerata Shrubland, Rhigozum obovatum-Rhus longispina Shrubland, Helichrysum dregeanum-Aristida diffusa Grassland, Pentzia globosa-Enneapogon scoparius Grassland, Aristida adscensionus-Pentzia globosa Grassland, Cadaba aphylla-Acacia karroo Woodland and Lycium oxycarpum-Acacia karroo Woodland). Four of these communities occur on the higher-lying plateau, mid-slope and crest areas, while the other four communities are located on the lower-lying mid-plateau and foot slope, along drainage lines and in valley-bottom areas. The description of the plant communities, together with the vegetation map, can serve as a basis for formulating a management programme for the larger park. Although sections of Doornhoek have been overgrazed and degraded in the past, its recent addition to the MZNP contributes to the available habitat preferred by large herbivores, such as valley bottoms, foot-slopes and plateaux. <![CDATA[<b>The alien invasive land snail <i>Theba pisana </i>in the West Coast National Park</b>: <b>is there cause for concern?</b>]]> The distribution, abundance, size distribution and diurnal activity patterns of invasive land snails, Theba pisana, in the West Coast National Park (WCNP), South Africa, were investigated. The park was divided into 1 km2 grids, within each of which five 1 m2 quadrat counts of live snails were recorded. Of 106 grids sampled, 19% contained live snails. The average density of snails was 4.04 m-2 ± 24.9, significantly lower than in disturbed habitats adjacent to the park (57 m-2 ± 96.25), but very high densities were recorded at two sites. Snails were most abundant along roadsides and densities decreased dramatically with distance from roads. T. pisana in the WCNP appear to have an annual lifecycle, breeding in autumn to winter and growing to adult size of about 14 mm diameter by the end of the following summer. Snails were observed on a wide variety of endemic and introduced plant species and appeared to have a catholic diet. They are active mostly at night and especially during periods of high humidity, irrespective of temperature. Given the very high densities that T. pisana can attain at some sites, plus their apparently catholic feeding habits, their potential impact on the vegetation of the park is cause for concern and should be further investigated. Control of the main colonies should also be considered. <![CDATA[<b>Landscapes in the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, South Africa</b>]]> A landscape map of the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park is presented. Mapping is at a finer scale than previous vegetation and habitat maps for the same area. The landscapes were grouped into seven large classes and a total of 20 landscapes were mapped. A description of the terrain morphology, soil and vegetation of each landscape is provided. Landscapes that are focal points for the large animals of the region include the calcrete outcrops, riverbeds and pans. These landscapes cover only about 10% of the total area of the region. This map can be used as basis for park planning, management, research and other applications. <![CDATA[<b>Characterisation of the woody assemblages of Zululand coastal thornveld along the Nseleni River</b>]]> A classification of the woody component of the riparian vegetation of Zululand coastal thornveld is analysed using the height classes of different woody species as an indication of age. A total of 43 randomly stratified plots was selected using aerial photographs to include all the different plant communities in this rare and endemic vegetation type. A floristic survey of the woody component was conducted within each sample plot. Species data recorded included tree cover and tree richness. Environmental data recorded included altitude, soil type, soil chemistry, aspect and slope. The data set was analysed with TWINSPAN and four woody-plant assemblages were identified. An ordination using CANOCO was applied to examine the relationships between species distribution and associated environmental gradients. Changes in the species composition of woody assemblages occurred along an environmental gradient determined by soil properties and past land use. <![CDATA[<b>The vegetation and floristics of the Nkhuhlu exclosures, Kruger National Park</b>]]> The need to conduct research on the impact of elephant on the environment prompted the construction of exclosures along two of the most important rivers in the Kruger National Park. Scientific research on these exclosures along the Sabie and Letaba rivers addresses how patterns of spatial and temporal heterogeneity of the riparian zone are affected by fire, flood and herbivory. To further assist this research programme, a vegetation survey was conducted at the Nkhuhlu exclosure site along the Sabie River to classify and map the vegetation of the area. This will provide baseline data to assess future changes in vegetation and floristic patterns due to small-scale environmental factors created by the presence/absence of herbivory and fire. Phytosociological data were analysed to identify plant communities and subsequent mapping units. Five plant communities, ten sub-communities and four variants were recognised and described in relation to prevailing soil forms. Differences in species richness, diversity and community structure of the plant communities are clearly articulated. <![CDATA[<b>Springbok behaviour as affected by environmental conditions in the Kalahari</b>]]> Springbok behavioural ecology in the Kalahari was examined with the use of public questionnaires and field forms. Springbok favoured grass and forbs overall more than shrubs and trees, but diet selection was influenced by time of day and season. Feeding was the most common activity and the frequency of occurrence varied during the day and between seasons. Weather and microhabitat conditions were found to have a significant effect on the feeding behaviour. Springbok fed in direct sunlight in the mornings and moved into the shade during the afternoon. More time was spent feeding in the shade during the warmer months than during the colder months, especially under northerly to northeasterly wind directions. Natural licks were commonly utilised. Herd sizes were found to increase during the cold-dry season and decrease during the hot-wet season. Springbok and blue wildebeest appeared to avoid competition by niche separation. The study showed that springbok behaviour was significantly affected by environmental conditions. These results imply that changes in climatic conditions, such as those predicted by climate change, or changes in vegetation structure due to degradation, can negatively affect springbok behaviour. <![CDATA[<b>Travel motivations of tourists visiting Kruger National Park</b>]]> The Kruger National Park (KNP) one of the largest conservation areas in South Africa, attracts in excess of one million visitors a year and is regarded as an icon destination in international tourism. Since this park attracts more tourists than any other park in South Africa, the purpose of this article is to determine the reasons (the travel motives) why tourists visit the park. Little research has been done on travel motives to national parks and this was the first of its kind in South Africa. The research was conducted by means of questionnaires. A factor analysis was used to determine the travel motives. Six factors were identified, namely nature, activities, attractions, nostalgia, novelty and escape from routine. Some of these motives were confirmed by similar research in other countries, although the similarities are not significant. This research confirmed that different attractions and destinations fed different travel motives, hence the need for more studies of this nature to be conducted. <![CDATA[<b>Vegetation of the Hantam-Tanqua-Roggeveld subregion, South Africa part 2</b>: <b>succulent karoo biome related vegetation</b>]]> The Hantam-Tanqua-Roggeveld subregion lies within the Succulent Karoo Hotspot that stretches along the western side of the Republic of South Africa and Namibia. This project, carried out to document the botanical diversity in the Hantam-Tanqua-Roggeveld subregion, was part of a project identified as a priority during the SKEP (Succulent Karoo Ecosystem Programme) initiative in this Hotspot. Botanical surveys were conducted in an area covering over three million hectares. Satellite images of the area and topocadastral, land type and geology maps were used to stratify the area into relatively homogeneous units. An analysis of the floristic data of 390 sample plots identified two major floristic units, i.e. the Fynbos Biome related vegetation and the Succulent Karoo Biome related vegetation. A description of the vegetation related to the Succulent Karoo Biome is presented in this article. Seven associations, 16 subassociations and several mosaic vegetation units, consisting of more than one vegetation unit, were identified and mapped. Various threats to the vegetation in the region were identified during the survey and are briefly discussed. <![CDATA[<b>The plant communities of the Andover Game Reserve, South Africa</b>]]> Floristic characteristics of the Andover Game Reserve (AGR) were surveyed using an area-based survey technique and classified according to the data recorded from 88 relevés, using the PHYTOTAB-PC software package. Three plant communities, of which two each contain two variants, were described and mapped. The plant communities and their causative environmental factors were validated through detrended- and canonical correspondence multivariate analyses. The plant communities of the AGR were found to typify the floristics associated with the catenal sequences located in undulating areas on granite. Broad-leaved savanna is located at the crest and upper mid-slopes while fine-leaved savanna occurs along the footslopes of the AGR. Seeplines, a characteristic occurrence along catenas, are found at the transitional zone between the upper broad- and lower fine-leaved savanna plant communities. This study forms the basis for the compilation of a revised ecological management plan for the Andover Game Reserve. <![CDATA[<b>A floristic description of the Afromontane fynbos communities on Platberg, Eastern Free State, South Africa</b>]]> Within the Platberg area and the wider Drakensberg region, the shrinking natural resources and the threat posed to biodiversity are of concern to conservation management and require an understanding of long-term ecological processes. The vegetation of Platberg was investigated as part of an ecological survey to establish Afromontane floristic links to the Drakensberg as well as for the management of natural resources. From a TWINSPAN classification, refined by the Braun-Blanquet method, four main plant communities were identified, which were subdivided into fynbos, wetland, a woody/shrub community and grassland. A classification and description of the fynbos are presented in this article. The analysis showed the fynbos divided into two communities comprising four sub-communities and seven variants. The fynbos community had an average of 28.34 species per relevé, ranging from 14 to 54 species per sample plot. Twenty-four endemic or near-endemic Drakensberg Alpine Centre (DAC) species and 22 exotic (alien-invasive) species were recorded. Numerous floristic links with the DAC, Cape flora fynbos and grassland bioregions to the north and west were also found. The description of the fynbos plant communities can serve as a basis for the formulation of management plans for the area.