Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Koedoe]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/rss.php?pid=0075-645820120001&lang=en vol. 54 num. 1 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/img/en/fbpelogp.gif http://www.scielo.org.za <![CDATA[<b>Classification and description of the vegetation in the Spitskop area in the proposed Highveld National Park, North West Province, South Africa</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582012000100001&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en The objective of the proposed Highveld National Park (HNP) is to conserve a considerable area of the poorly conserved Rocky Highveld Grassland and Dry Sandy Highveld Grassveld of the western Grassland Biome in South Africa. The park has not yet been proclaimed, but is currently under the management of the North West Parks and Tourism Board. The main aim of this study was to classify and describe the vegetation in the Spitskop area in the HNP. The areas affected by soil degradation were on the midslopes, footslopes, valley bottomland and the floodplains around the Spitskop hill. The concentrated grazing around the Spitskop area was also influenced by the existing dam in the floodplains. Floristic and soil degradation data were collected and used to classify and describe the plant communities of the Spitskop area. Vegetation sampling was performed by means of the Braun-Blanquet method and a total of twenty plots were sampled. A numerical classification technique (TWINSPAN) was applied to the floristic data to derive a first approximation of the main plant communities. Further refinement was achieved by Braun-Blanquet procedures. The final results of the classification procedure were presented in the form of a phytosociological table, with three major communities and three subcommunities being described. Canonical correspondence analysis was used to determine the direct correlation between plant communities and soil degradation types. Soil compaction and sheet erosion were found to be the most significant variables determining plant community composition. Rill and gully erosion were shown to be of lesser significance in explaining the variation in plant communities. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: Grasslands are amongst the most threatened biomes in South Africa, yet less than 1.3% are 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>Climate and vegetation in a semi-arid savanna</b>: <b>development of a climate-vegetation response model linking plant metabolic performance to climate and the effects on forage availability for large herbivores</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582012000100002&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en A framework to establish the expected effects of climate on forage quantity and quality in a local savanna system was developed to interpret large herbivore population performance patterns in the Kruger National Park. We developed a climate-vegetation response model based on interpretation and synthesis of existing knowledge (literature review) and supported by investigation and analyses of local patterns of climate effects on forage plant performance and chemical composition. Developing the climate-vegetation response model involved three main components, namely (1) defining indicators of forage availability to herbivores (nitrogen productivity, nitrogen quality, carbon-nutrient quality), (2) identifying herbivore species guilds of similar nutritional requirements with respect to these indicators [bulk feeders with tolerance to fibrous herbage (buffalo, waterbuck), bulk feeders with preference for high nitrogen quality forage (short grass preference grazers: blue wildebeest and zebra) and selective feeders where dietary items of relatively high carbon-nutrient quality represented key forage resources (selective grazers: sable antelope, roan antelope, tsessebe, eland)] and (3) developing a process model where the expected effects of plant metabolic responses to climate on key forage resources were made explicit. According to the climate-vegetation response model both shorter-term transient temperature acclimation pulses and longer-term shifts in plant metabolic functionality settings were predicted to have occurred in response to temperature trends over the past century. These temperature acclimation responses were expected to have resulted in transient pulses of increased forage availability (increased nitrogen- and carbon-nutrient quality), as well as the progressive long-term decline of the carbon-nutrient quality of forage. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: The climate-vegetation response model represents a research framework for further studies contributing towards the enhanced understanding of landscape-scale functioning of savanna systems with reference to the interplay between climate, vegetation and herbivore population dynamics. Gains in such understanding can support sound conservation management. <![CDATA[<b>Large herbivore population performance and climate in a South African semi-arid savanna</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582012000100003&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Long-term population performance trends of eight large herbivore species belonging to groups of disparate foraging styles were studied in the semi-arid savanna of the Kruger National Park, South Africa. Over the past century the number of bulk feeders (buffalo, waterbuck, blue wildebeest and plains zebra) had increased towards comparatively high population densities, whereas population numbers of selectively feeding antelope species (sable antelope, roan antelope, tsessebe and eland) declined progressively. Detailed analyses revealed that population numbers of buffalo and waterbuck fluctuated in association with food quantity determined by rainfall. Population performance ratings (1944-2003) of the species for which forage quality was important (blue wildebeest, zebra and selective grazers) were correlated negatively with minimum temperature and positively with dry-season rainfall. Interpretation according to a climate-vegetation response model suggested that acclimation of forage plants to increasing temperature had resulted in temperature-enhanced plant productivity, initially increasing food availability and supporting transient synchronous increases in population abundance of both blue wildebeest and zebra, and selective grazers. As acclimation of plants to concurrently rising minimum (nocturnal) temperature (T ) took effect, adjustments in metabolic functionality occurred involving accelerated growth activity at the cost of storage-based metabolism. Growth-linked nitrogen dilution and reduced carbon-nutrient quality of forage then resulted in phases of subsequently declining herbivore populations. Over the long term (1910-2010), progressive plant functionality shifts towards accelerated metabolic growth rather than storage priority occurred in response to T rising faster than maximum temperature (T ), thereby cumulatively compromising the carbonnutrient quality of forage, a key resource for selective grazers. The results of analyses thus revealed consistency between herbivore population trends and levels of forage quantity and quality congruent with expected plant metabolic responses to climate effects. Thus, according to the climate-vegetation response model, climate effects were implicated as the ultimate cause of large herbivore population performance in space and over time. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: In its broadest sense, the objective of this study was to contribute towards the enhanced understanding of landscape-scale functioning of savanna systems with regard to the interplay between climate, vegetation and herbivore population dynamics. <![CDATA[<b>Phytosociology of the farm Haribes in the Nama-Karoo biome of southern Namibia</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582012000100004&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Limited historic vegetation data (prior to the 1980s) are available for Namibia. Finding such historic data at Haribes prompted a follow-up survey of the vegetation. We present a classification of the recent data in this paper as a first step towards comparing the two data sets. Six new associations (three with two subassociations each) are formally described. The landscape at Haribes is dominated by a pan with surrounding hummock dunes. The pan supports the Lycio cinereum - Salsoletum, whilst on the hummock dunes the Salsolo -Tetragonietum schenckii can be found. The surrounding plains and escarpment can be divided into three landforms: the torras with the Monsonio umbellatae - Boscietum foetidae, the ranteveld with the Acacio senegal - Catophractetum alexandri (and two subassociations) and calcrete ridges with the Zygophylo pubescentis - Leucosphaeretum bainesii. Dry river beds on the farm support two subassociations of Anthephoro pubescentis - Ziziphodetum mucronatae. The area covered by each dominant landform has been calculated after being mapped. The composition and diversity of the associations are briefly compared to other known vegetation descriptions within the Nama-Karoo. Since November 2011, Haribes has been used as a resettlement farm. This may result in the overutilisation of the limited grazing resources, to the extent that the present, fairly dense Acacio senegal - Catophractetum alexandri of the ranteveld is feared to become degraded to resemble the Monsonio umbellatae - Boscietum foetidae of the torras. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: This paper describes six plant associations of the Nama-Karoo biome in arid southern Namibia. The information presented forms a baseline description, which can be used for future monitoring of the vegetation under altered land use. <![CDATA[<b>Delivering community benefits acts as insurance for the survival of small protected areas such as the Abe Bailey Nature Reserve, South Africa</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582012000100005&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en The Abe Bailey Nature Reserve (ABNR) in the Gauteng Province of South Africa is largely unknown and offers little to attract visitors. The biological integrity of the ABNR is challenged by the urban poverty in Khutsong, the reserve's immediate neighbour. Relations between Khutsong and the nature reserve had been hostile for decades as a result of the 'fortress' style of conservation protection used for the ABNR. However, this situation provided the Gauteng Directorate of Nature Conservation with an opportunity to experiment with identifying and transferring benefits to the community, as well as establishing an effective buffer zone between the nature reserve and the informal settlements of Khutsong. Following an initial rapid rural appraisal and ongoing liaison through specifically appointed project managers, an outreach programme containing two natural resource-based projects was developed. As a result, better relations were established between the ABNR and its neighbouring community for the first time since the nature reserve was established in 1977. This acted as 'insurance' during violent public protests and vandalism in the Khutsong border demarcation dispute (2005-2007), but may not be enough to secure the nature reserve into the future. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: Small protected areas may not be effective in ensuring their biological integrity in the long term, but working cooperatively with existing and future neighbours is an essential strategy to optimise conservation activities in small reserves such as the ABNR. <![CDATA[<b>Changing distributions of larger ungulates in the Kruger National Park from ecological aerial survey data</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582012000100006&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Documenting current species distribution patterns and their association with habitat types is important as a basis for assessing future range shifts in response to climate change or other influences. We used the adaptive local convex hull (á-LoCoH) method to map distribution ranges of 12 ungulate species within the Kruger National Park (KNP) based on locations recorded during aerial surveys (1980-1993). We used log-linear models to identify changes in regional distribution patterns and chi-square tests to determine shifts in habitat occupation over this period. We compared observed patterns with earlier, more subjectively derived distribution maps for these species. Zebra, wildebeest and giraffe distributions shifted towards the far northern section of the KNP, whilst buffalo and kudu showed proportional declines in the north. Sable antelope distribution contracted most in the north, whilst tsessebe, eland and roan antelope distributions showed no shifts. Warthog and waterbuck contracted in the central and northern regions, respectively. The distribution of impala did not change. Compared with earlier distributions, impala, zebra, buffalo, warthog and waterbuck had become less strongly concentrated along rivers. Wildebeest, zebra, sable antelope and tsessebe had become less prevalent in localities west of the central region. Concerning habitat occupation, the majority of grazers showed a concentration on basaltic substrates, whilst sable antelope favoured mopane-dominated woodland and sour bushveld on granite. Buffalo showed no strong preference for any habitats and waterbuck were concentrated along rivers. Although widespread, impala were absent from sections of mopane shrubveld and sandveld. Kudu and giraffe were widespread through most habitats, but with a lesser prevalence in northern mopane-dominated habitats. Documented distribution shifts appeared to be related to the completion of the western boundary fence and widened provision of surface water within the park. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: The objectively recorded distribution patterns provide a foundation for assessing future changes in distribution that may take place in response to climatic shifts or other influences. <![CDATA[<b>Preliminary assessment of the impact of long-term fire treatments on <i>in situ</i> soil hydrology in the Kruger National Park</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582012000100007&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en There has been significant attention focused on the impacts of fire frequency and season of burn on ecological processes in the Kruger National Park (KNP). Whilst there has been some examination of these fire effects on soil properties, the explicit linkages of these effects to the hydrology of soils in burnt areas has remained a gap in our understanding. During August 2010, a field scoping campaign was undertaken to assess the impacts, if any, of long-term fire treatments on the hydrology of soils on the experimental burn plots (EBPs) in the KNP. Using various hydrometric and soil physical characterisation instruments soil, hydraulic conductivity and soil strength variations were determined across the extreme fire treatment on the EBPs, the annual August (high fire frequency) plots and the control (no burn) plots, on both the granite and basalt geologies of Pretoriuskop and Satara, respectively. It was found that there were soil hydrological and structural differences to fire treatments on the basalt burn plots, but that these were not as clear on the granite burn plots. In particular, hot, frequent fires appeared to reduce the variation in soil hydraulic conductivity on the annual burn plots on the basalts and led to reduced cohesive soil strength at the surface. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: The KNP burn plots are one of the longest running and well studied fire experiments on African savannahs. However, the impacts of fire management on hydrological processes in these water-limited ecosystems remains a gap in our understanding and needs to be considered within the context of climate and land-use changes in the savannah biome. <![CDATA[<b>Invertebrates on isolated peaks in the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site, South Africa</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582012000100008&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en A survey to document and describe the alpine flora and various focal faunal taxa on six isolated inselberg-like peaks (total area of 31.9 ha), all 3000 m or higher, located in the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site, South Africa, was undertaken in early summer in 2005. Study of the fauna of these peaks should be informative because the impacts of controllable anthropogenic threats on the invertebrate communities on them should be minimal or absent in comparison with those on the main massif. A total of 341 invertebrate individuals representing 61 species were recorded from the focal taxa (Oligochaeta, Gastropoda and certain groups of Insecta, i.e. focal taxa within the Blattoidea, Dermaptera, Orthoptera, Hemiptera, Diptera, Lepidoptera, Coleoptera and Hymenoptera). The 61 species recorded consisted of two species from the Oligochaeta, one species from the Gastropoda and 58 species from the Insecta. Eleven species (one from the Oligochaeta, ten from the Insecta) are endemic and 11 species (one from the Oligochaeta, ten from the Insecta) are probably endemic to the Drakensberg Alpine Centre, constituting 36.1% of the total species recorded. The results suggest that the Drakensberg Alpine Centre (DAC), as for plants, is a centre of endemism for invertebrates. Cluster analysis showed that the species composition of the two northern peaks, Sentinel and Eastern Buttress, clustered together, separate from a cluster formed by the Outer Horn, Inner Horn and Dragon's Back and from the cluster formed by the southernmost peak, Cathkin. Non-metric multi-dimensional scaling results indicated that distance from the Sentinel, the most northerly peak sampled, and mean minimum temperature for July had the strongest correlations with the species data, reflecting change over a straight-line distance of nearly 60 km in a south-easterly direction. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: Only a small proportion (ca. 5.5%) of the DAC is conserved, the majority of which lies in the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site. Conservation of more of the DAC, including more of its latitudinal extent, is required to adequately conserve its unique plant and invertebrate communities. <![CDATA[<b>A checklist of epigaeic ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) from the Marakele National Park, Limpopo, South Africa</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582012000100009&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Ant surveys are extensively used to guide conservation decisions and form part of a 'shopping basket' of invertebrate taxa proposed for the use in monitoring programmes in South Africa's national parks. However, very few ant inventories exist for these conservation areas. We report on the first quantitative survey of ants in the Marakele National Park (67 000 ha). Ants were sampled in four habitats, covering both the altitudinal range (1000 m a.s.l. 2000 m a.s.l.) and three vegetation types in the park. A total of 4847 specimens, representing 29 genera and 104 species, were recorded from pitfall traps over a five-day period. Myrmicinae was the most abundant and diverse subfamily, representing 82% of all ants sampled, followed by the Formicinae subfamily, which represented 18% of the total abundance. The most abundant species were members of the Pheidole megacephala group, Pheidole sculpturata Mayr and members of the Monomorium salomonis group. In general, we found that the less complex habitats supported higher ant diversity. The Marakele National Park contains a quarter of the ant species recorded in South Africa and is a potential hotspot for invertebrate conservation. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: The Marakele National Park represents an area of high ant and therefore invertebrate - diversity. Ant conservation would require attention to each of the vegetation types to maintain complementarity (beta diversity) of the assemblages as well as consideration to the impact of large herbivores, whose presence positively influence ant richness at a site (alpha diversity). <![CDATA[<b>Preliminary assessment of surf-zone and estuarine line-fish species of the Dwesa-Cwebe Marine Protected Area, Eastern Cape, South Africa</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582012000100010&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en A preliminary assessment of surf-zone and estuarine line fish was carried out in the Dwesa-Cwebe Marine Protected Area (MPA), on the Wild Coast, South Africa. The purpose was to provide baseline data on inshore line-fish stocks in the MPA. A total of 28 species was recorded, of which 53% have a conservation status reflecting some concern and 43% are endemic to southern Africa. This highlights the value of the MPA for protection of important line-fish species. Within the MPA, localised differences were detected in species diversity, size frequency and catch per unit effort between unexploited and illegally exploited areas. These differences were more prominent in slow growing, long-lived species. It thus appears that illegal exploitation is negatively affecting fish populations within the MPA, which counteract and potentially could eliminate the benefits of fish protection typically associated with no-take MPAs. These results highlight the need for improved law enforcement and better communication with neighbouring communities to increase awareness. It is further recommended that the current no-take status of the MPA should be maintained. In addition, baseline fisheries information was collected on certain fish species that could be used to inform future conservation management of the MPA. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: The Dwesa-Cwebe Marine Protected Area is unique and important for the conservation of key surf zone and estuarine fish species. However there is a significant risk to the fish populations due to illegal exploitation. Key interventions should include enhanced law enforcement but, more important, the creation of alternative livelihoods and long term sustainable benefits to local communities. <![CDATA[<b>The casual, naturalised and invasive alien flora of Zimbabwe based on herbarium and literature records</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582012000100011&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Zimbabwe's casual, naturalised and invasive alien plant species were analysed with regard to their habit, origin, mode or purpose of introduction and their invasion status in the country. This alien flora of 391 taxa belonged to 239 genera and 73 families, corresponding to 6.6% of the total flora of Zimbabwe. Of these, 153 (39.1%) plant species were casual aliens, 154 (39.4%) were naturalised and 84 (21.5%) were invasive species. Most invasions in terms of numbers of alien species were in the central and eastern parts of the country. Asteraceae (53 species), Poaceae (48 species) and Fabaceae sensu lato (49 species) families were prominent in all the floristic regions of the country. Annual and perennial herbaceous species formed the majority of life forms of the casual, naturalised and invasive alien flora of Zimbabwe. Genera with the highest number of alien species were Ipomoea with nine species, Acacia and Euphorbia with eight species each, Chenopodium and Senna with seven species each, Eucalyptus with six species, Oenothera, Physalis and Solanum with five species each. More than 49.6% of the alien plants in Zimbabwe originated primarily from South, Central and North America, followed by Europe (24.6%), Asia (23.8%), Africa (10.5%) and Australasia (5.9%). CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: This research provides baseline information and historical invasion patterns of casual, naturalised and invasive alien flora in Zimbabwe. This inventory is a crucial starting point in trying to understand and initiate the management of biological invasions. This is also important for monitoring new introductions and management of existing alien plants in Zimbabwe. <![CDATA[<b>New plant records for Tankwa Karoo National Park, South Africa</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582012000100012&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en The Tankwa Karoo National Park has been enlarged from 27 064 ha to 143 600 ha. This whole area is severely under-collected for plants in general and therefore it was an obvious target for the South African National Parks (SANParks) Programme, a component of the Pretoria National Herbarium (PRE) Plant Collecting Programme. This programme not only aims to survey national parks that have been poorly surveyed, but also inadequately known taxa, unique habitats, remote and inaccessible areas and plant species flowering at irregular times, especially after events such as fire or unusual timing of, or high, rainfall. General collecting in the Tankwa Karoo National Park has already led to the description of two new taxa, from two families. It furthermore resulted in new distribution records for the park and for the Northern Cape Province. These are reported on here. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: Although the Tankwa Karoo National Park falls within the Succulent Karoo Biome (a biodiversity hotspot of international importance), information on its plant diversity is insufficient because it is an under-collected area. Results of this study will guide conservation and supply occurrence and distribution data required to compile management plans for the park. <![CDATA[<b>A geomorphic and soil description of the long-term fire experiment in the Kruger National Park, South Africa</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582012000100013&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en In 1954, the experimental burning programme into fire research was initiated in the Kruger National Park (KNP), South Africa. It is viewed as one of the last remaining long-term landscape fire experiments in Africa. Throughout the more than five decades of fire treatments in the experiment, numerous surveys (expanding various spatial and temporal scales), research projects (covering biotic and abiotic components) and analyses have been conducted with the aim to assess the impacts of different fire regimes on the savannah biome. The design of the experiment intended to test the effect of season and frequency of burning on vegetation within four major landscapes in the KNP. However, these effects have been partly obscured by factors not fully taken into account by the experimental design, namely, herbivory, artificial water provision and soil variation. Soil variation between replicates in the same landscape, as well as within individual replicates, has raised the issue of the representivity of the trial. This paper provided a description and ranking of the experimental burning trial according to the geomorphic and soil characteristics of each plot in comparison to the surrounding landscape. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: The KNP burn plots are one of the largest and longest-running fire experiments on fire ecology in African savannahs. However, studies need to consider the underlying geomorphic and soil template when designing experiments and interpreting results. This work describes the representivity of the plots across, and within, treatments. <![CDATA[<b>Leopard range size and conservation area size in the southern Kalahari</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582012000100014&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en The range use patterns of adult leopards were used to examine the impact of environmental quality on conservation area size in the arid south-western portion of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in southern Africa. The ranges of the leopards are the largest recorded in the world, with a mean size of 2104.4 km² (SE M 995.95 km²) for males and 1258.5 km² (SE M 541.50 km²) for females. Overlaps in range use within and between the sexes and the size of this conservation area make it possible to sustain a genetically viable population of leopards in this arid environment. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: When establishing conservation areas that contain large carnivores in arid and semi-arid regions, prey abundance and range use should be considered for the area to be able to sustain viable populations of such carnivores. The results emphasise the importance of establishing large transfrontier conservation areas where individual conservation areas are too small to do so. This study is the first to do so for leopards in southern Africa. <![CDATA[<b>Scarcity in the time of over-consumption</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582012000100015&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en The range use patterns of adult leopards were used to examine the impact of environmental quality on conservation area size in the arid south-western portion of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in southern Africa. The ranges of the leopards are the largest recorded in the world, with a mean size of 2104.4 km² (SE M 995.95 km²) for males and 1258.5 km² (SE M 541.50 km²) for females. Overlaps in range use within and between the sexes and the size of this conservation area make it possible to sustain a genetically viable population of leopards in this arid environment. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: When establishing conservation areas that contain large carnivores in arid and semi-arid regions, prey abundance and range use should be considered for the area to be able to sustain viable populations of such carnivores. The results emphasise the importance of establishing large transfrontier conservation areas where individual conservation areas are too small to do so. This study is the first to do so for leopards in southern Africa. <![CDATA[<b>A new benchmark in biodiversity monitoring</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582012000100016&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en The range use patterns of adult leopards were used to examine the impact of environmental quality on conservation area size in the arid south-western portion of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in southern Africa. The ranges of the leopards are the largest recorded in the world, with a mean size of 2104.4 km² (SE M 995.95 km²) for males and 1258.5 km² (SE M 541.50 km²) for females. Overlaps in range use within and between the sexes and the size of this conservation area make it possible to sustain a genetically viable population of leopards in this arid environment. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: When establishing conservation areas that contain large carnivores in arid and semi-arid regions, prey abundance and range use should be considered for the area to be able to sustain viable populations of such carnivores. The results emphasise the importance of establishing large transfrontier conservation areas where individual conservation areas are too small to do so. This study is the first to do so for leopards in southern Africa.