Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Koedoe]]> vol. 52 num. 1 lang. pt <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Plant communities and landscapes of the Parque Nacional de Zinave, Mozambique</b>]]> The Parque Nacional de Zinave covers 400 000 ha in Mozambique to the south of the Save River. Until recently, this park had been characterised by neglect and illegal hunting that caused the demise of most of its large wildlife. A recent initiative has been launched that aims at rehabilitating the park within the scope of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP). A vegetation map was required as input to its management plan. The three primary objectives of the study were, firstly, to understand the environmental and biotic determinants of the vegetation, secondly, to identify and describe individual plant communities in terms of species composition and structure along the roads in the study area and, thirdly, to delineate landscapes in terms of their plant community make-up, environmental as well as biotic determinants and distribution. This is the third survey and description of the landscapes of the national parks located in the Mozambique part of the GLTP. A combination of fieldwork and analysis of LANDSAT satellite imagery was used. A total of 75 sample plots were surveyed. A brief subjective visual assessment was undertaken for another 114 sample points. The accuracy of the landscape map was evaluated by means of 582 points assessed during an aerial game count. The ordination results clearly indicate the overriding importance of moisture availability in determining vegetation composition. Ten distinct plant communities were recognised. Different combinations of these plant communities can be grouped in six major landscapes, namely the Save River channel and river banks, Save riverine forest, Acacia nigrescens woodland landscape, mopane landscape, miombo landscape and sandveld landscape. The landscapes with their individual plant communities represent habitats that are highly suitable for the reintroduction of many game species that were lost during the latter part of the last century. Conservation implication: No formal description and mapping of the vegetation existed for Zinave. The landscape map is a vital input for the management plan. The reintroduction of wildlife species that were exterminated during the civil war requires a selection of suitable habitats for the placement of the 'sanctuary' that will be used to ensure the initial security of the introduced animals. The landscape map of Zinave fits into the broader mapping of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park and Conservation Area (GLTFCA) for conservation planning purposes. <![CDATA[<b>A floristic analysis of the vegetation of Platberg, eastern Free State, South Africa</b>]]> A checklist of vascular plants of Platberg was compiled to determine species richness, rarity and endemism. The floristic analysis is part of the Department of Economic, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Free State biodiversity assessment programme and conservation management plan for Platberg. The analysis identified a total of 669 species belonging to 304 genera and 95 families, with 214 species belonging to the Monocotyledoneae and 438 species to the Dicotyledoneae. The largest family is Asteraceae with 126 species, followed by Poaceae with 73 species, Cyperaceae with 39 species, Fabaceae with 33 species, and Scrophulariaceae with 27 species. Various fynbos species were found, as well as 26 endemic/near-endemic species belonging to the Drakensberg Alpine Centre or Eastern Mountain Region. The results of this study revealed that Platberg shares inselberg floral richness and endemism that can be tracked via the Afromontane archipelago-like string of inselbergs and mountains, which stretch north through the Chimanimani Mountains, into Malawi, the Eastern Arc Mountains via Tanzania and north through Ethiopia, into Eurasia. Conservation implications: Platberg, as an inselberg, is a site of significant biological diversity, with high species richness, vegetation selection and ecosystem complexity. It shares floral richness and endemism via inselbergs and mountains throughout Africa. The high species richness, Red Data species and ecosystems make this area an important conservation site that should be legislated and protected. <![CDATA[<b>An ecological study of the plant communities in the proposed Highveld National Park, in the peri-urban area of Potchefstroom, South Africa</b>]]> The proposed Highveld National Park (HNP) is an area of high conservation value in South Africa, covering approximately 0.03% of the endangered Grassland Biome. The park is situated immediately adjacent to the town of Potchefstroom in the North-West Province. The objective of this study was to identify, classify, describe and map the plant communities in this park. Vegetation sampling was done by means of the Braun-Blanquet method and a total of 88 stratified random relevés were sampled. A numerical classification technique (TWINSPAN) was used and the results were refined by Braun-Blanquet procedures. The final results of the classification procedure were presented in the form of phytosociological tables and, thereafter, nine plant communities were described and mapped. A detrended correspondence analysis confirmed the presence of three structural vegetation units, namely woodland, shrubland and grassland. Differences in floristic composition in the three vegetation units were found to be influenced by environmental factors, such as surface rockiness and altitude. Incidences of harvesting trees for fuel, uncontrolled fires and overgrazing were found to have a significant effect on floristic and structural composition in the HNP. The ecological interpretation derived from this study can therefore be used as a tool for environmental planning and management of this grassland area. Conservation implications: Grasslands are amongst the most threatened and least conserved vegetation biomes in South Africa, with less than 1.3% currently being conserved. The HNP has significant value for biodiversity conservation and the protection of this area will contribute to the preservation of the highly threatened Highveld vegetation types. <![CDATA[<b>The vegetation and floristics of the Letaba exclosures, Kruger National Park, South Africa</b>]]> The construction of exclosures along two of the most important rivers in the Kruger National Park was done to investigate how patterns of spatial and temporal heterogeneity of the riparian zone is affected by fire, flood and herbivory. To assist this research programme, vegetation surveys were conducted within exclosures along the Letaba River to classify and map the vegetation of the area. The history and experimental design of the Letaba exclosures are similar to that of the Nkhuhlu exclosures along the Sabie River, which is directly related to questions surrounding elephant management. The main difference between the Nkhuhlu and Letaba exclosures is local heterogeneity, since the latter lies within the Mopaneveld, which is floristically and physiognomically much more homogenous than the vegetation of the southern Kruger National Park. Nevertheless, four plant communities, eight sub-communities and six variants were recognised and mapped for the Letaba exclosures. The vegetation description was done in relation to prevailing soil forms, differences in species richness, diversity and community structure, and therefore should serve as a basis for further detailed and broad-based botanical studies. Vegetation mapping was done to sub-community level and, where possible, to variant level. As expected in Mopaneveld vegetation, the plant communities could broadly be related to soil types, although smaller-scale variations correspond to soil moisture availability because the Mopaneveld is considered 'event-driven', especially in the herbaceous layer. Conservation implications: Floristic surveying and vegetation mapping of a long-term monitoring site, such as the Letaba exclosures, is seen as a baseline inventory to assist natural resource management. Linking mapping units to biodiversity strengthens the understanding needed to maintain biodiversity in all its natural facets and fluxes. <![CDATA[<b>Techniques used in the study of African wildcat, <i>Felis silvestris cafra</i>, in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (South Africa/ Botswana)</b>]]> The techniques used for the capture, marking and habituation of African wildcats (Felis silvestris cafra) in the Kalahari are described and evaluated in this paper. African wildcats were captured, with either baited cage traps or chemical immobilisation through darting. Darting proved to be a more efficient and less stressful way of capturing cats. Very high frequency (VHF) radio collars fitted with activity monitors were especially effective in the open habitat of the Kalahari for locating and maintaining contact with cats; they also aided in determining if the cats were active or resting in dense vegetation. The habituation of individual cats to a 4×4 vehicle proved to be time consuming, but it provided a unique opportunity to investigate the feeding ecology and spatial organisation of cats through direct visual observations. Conservation implications: In describing and comparing the various methods of capture, handling and release of the African wildcats that we followed during our study in the southern Kalahari, we recommend the most efficient, least stressful method for researchers to follow - both in relation to time and energy, as well as in terms of the impact on the animals being studied. <![CDATA[<b>Evaluation of <i>Themeda triandra</i> as an indicator for monitoring the effects of grazing and fire in the Bontebok National Park</b>]]> Up until 2004, the burning regime applied in the Bontebok National Park was aimed at maintaining grazing conditions suitable for bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygargus). It was, however, not suitable for maintaining plant species diversity, an increasingly urgent conservation priority for the park. Accordingly, the burning regime was changed in 2004 to increase the interval between fires. A possible unintended outcome of the new burning regime is the spread of grazing lawns which is likely to be deleterious for maintaining the diversity of rare plants. Red grass, Themeda triandra, a species often locally abundant in areas preferred by bontebok, is potentially a good indicator of the anticipated change because, although it persists with moderate grazing, it is sensitive to localised intense grazing and will decrease on grazing lawns. To gauge the potential of this indicator, the canopy spread cover, degree of defoliation and inflorescence production of T. triandra was determined at 13 permanently marked sites in November 2005. The results are compared with a survey conducted 20 years previously (October-November 1984 and October-November 1985) using similar methodology. The results suggest that T. triandra remained abundant over the previous 20 years' application of the prior burning regime. In 1984-1985, defoliation of T. triandra was high within 1 year after a fire but declined quickly thereafter. In 2005, the tendency for the defoliation level to decline with increasing time after a fire was still apparent, but it was much less marked than in the previous survey period. A likely cause of this was the fact that Cape mountain zebra (Equus zebra zebra) and red hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus caama) were present in 2005 but absent in 1984-1985 and these taller-grass grazers would have contributed to the use of the older veld. Provided it is interpreted together with other monitoring programmes, the use of T. triandra cover and defoliation intensity appears promising as an efficient indicator of some of the potentially deleterious outcomes of the interactions between herbivory and the new burning regime. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: The conservation objectives of maintaining (1) large mammal herbivory as an ecological process and (2) plant species diversity may be difficult to reconcile with each other in the highly fragmented renosterveld and lowland fynbos ecosystems. This paper explores a rapid approach to monitoring impacts of bontebok and other grazing ungulates. <![CDATA[<b>The socio-economic impact of Africa's oldest marine park</b>]]> South African National Parks (SANParks) plays a major role in the tourism industry and has three primary functions, namely to conserve biodiversity, to create tourism and recreational opportunities and to build strong community relations. These parks, therefore, have a definite socio-economic impact on adjacent communities, although little is known about this impact. The main aim of this study was to determine the socio-economic impact of Africa's oldest marine park, namely Tsitsikamma National Park, which forms part of the newly created Garden Route National Park. This was done by conducting three surveys during April 2008: a visitor's survey (156 respondents), a community survey (132 respondents) and a business survey (11 respondents). We found that the park has a positive economic impact on the surrounding area and that the community exhibits a favourable attitude towards Tsitsikamma National Park. The results also differed when compared to similar studies conducted at other national parks in South Arica and one of the main reasons for this was that the park is located in a touristic area. For a greater impact however, the park should expand its marine activities, while communication with the local community could also be improved. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: Good community relations and ecotourism activities are important components of good conservation practices. This research indicates that tourism activities not only generated funds for conservation, but also benefited the local communities of Tsitsikamma National Park. The positive attitude of local communities makes conservation of biodiversity more sustainable. <![CDATA[<b>A floristic description and utilisation of two home ranges by vervet monkeys in Loskop Dam Nature Reserve, South Africa</b>]]> The plant communities occurring in the home ranges of two vervet monkey (Chlorocebus aethiops) troops (referred to as the Donga and Picnic troops) were investigated as part of a comprehensive research project on the spatial and temporal patterns in resource dispersion or distribution and range use. From two-way indicator species analysis (TWINSPAN) multivariate classifications refined by Braun-Blanquet procedures, seven plant communities that can be placed into three major groups were identified in the home range of the Donga troop, and eight plant communities that can be placed into four major groups were identified in the home range of the Picnic troop. Classifications and descriptions of the major groups, including vegetation maps, are presented. Diagnostic as well as prominent species of tree, shrub, forb and grass strata are outlined. Ordinations and floristic analyses were undertaken for the two home ranges to highlight vegetative differences between the areas. The phenology of vervet resources and the available resource energy were determined as a basis for the comprehensive study. Conservation implications: This vegetation description and phenology provide valuable information on the utilisation of home ranges by vervets and demonstrate how various management applications can affect the home range dependence of troops. <![CDATA[<b>Plant diversity and flowering displays on old fields in the arid Namaqua National Park, South Africa</b>]]> The main aim of this study was to classify the vegetation on the abandoned fields in the Namaqua National Park and to investigate whether the time since abandonment has impacted on the diversity and mass flowering displays. Sixty-two old field sample sites were surveyed using the Braun-Blanquet method. Floristic data were analysed to produce a hierarchical classification, while a principal coordinates analysis was used to establish whether the ordination supported the classification. Species richness (total number of taxa), as well as the Shannon-Wiener diversity index, was calculated per vegetation unit for the different life forms. Four old field communities were identified, each containing a unique complement of species, which differed in their potential to produce a mass flowering display. On the Skilpad section of the park, Ursinia cakilefolia dominated the spectacular mass floral displays for which the park has become well known. Old fields in other parts of the park did not produce the same spectacular displays. Although total and perennial species richness did not differ significantly with time since abandonment, the richness of annual species, in particular of the showy annual species, decreased with time since abandonment. The relative contribution of the perennial species to vegetation cover increased with time since abandonment, whereas the relative contribution made by showy annual species to vegetation cover declined with time since abandonment. Although species composition and the potential to produce mass flowering displays of the four communities differed, diversity parameters were similar. However, to maintain a flower display for tourists on the Skilpad section, a degree of disturbance is essential. Conservation implication: Although deliberate disturbance is not desirable in a national park, we find that some disturbance is essential to maintain a spectacular flowering display. However, these intentionally disturbed old fields cover only a small proportion of the total area of the park. All other old fields in the park should not be disturbed, and should be allowed to recover naturally. <![CDATA[<b>Romance, reverence, research, rights</b>: <b>writing about elephant hunting and management in southern Africa, c.1830s to 2008</b>]]> The protection and management of large mammals in Africa's national parks is not a matter to be left solely for the attention of natural science and scientists. The way in which the natural world is conceptualised by the humanities and social sciences is also significant, because nature is cultural as well as scientific. This article is an interdisciplinary appraisal of the manner in which the writing (e.g. discourse, vocabulary) about elephants in various literary and scientific texts has altered over time. It aims to provide an analysis of some of the literature about elephants in order to examine literate society's changing responses to the hunting and management of elephants in southern Africa over the past two centuries. The review suggests that new research questions regarding animal cognition and empathy have been generated by these changing attitudes, in conjunction with fresh directions in ecological understanding. Conservation implications: Biodiversity conservation is an inexact science, and even the distinction between conservation research and conservation management is not clear-cut. Moreover, a degree of emotion is evident in scientific and popular discussions around what should be 'saved' and how best this might be achieved. Nature is cultural as well as scientific and interdisciplinary insights from the humanities and social sciences may beneficially inform protected area management.