Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Koedoe]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/rss.php?pid=0075-645820220001&lang=en vol. 64 num. 1 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/img/en/fbpelogp.gif http://www.scielo.org.za <![CDATA[<b>Reflecting on research produced after more than 60 years of exclosures in the Kruger National Park</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582022000100001&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Herbivores are a main driver of ecosystem patterns and processes in semi-arid savannas, with their effects clearly observed when they are excluded from landscapes. Starting in the 1960s, various herbivore exclosures have been erected in the Kruger National Park (KNP), for research and management purposes. These exclosures vary from very small (1 m²) to relatively large (almost 900 ha), from short-term (single growing season) to long-term (e.g. some of the exclosures were erected more than 60 years ago), and are located on different geologies and across a rainfall gradient. We provide a summary of the history and specifications of various exclosures. This is followed by a systematic overview of mostly peer-reviewed literature resulting from using KNP exclosures as research sites. These 75 articles cover research on soils, vegetation dynamics, herbivore exclusion on other faunal groups and disease. We provide general patterns and mechanisms in a synthesis section, and end with recommendations to increase research outputs and productivity for future exclosure experiments. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: Herbivore exclosures in the KNP have become global research platforms, that have helped in the training of ecologists, veterinarians and field biologists, and have provided valuable insights into savanna dynamics that would otherwise have been hard to gain. In an age of dwindling conservation funding, we make the case for the value added by exclosures and make recommendations for their continued use as learning tools in complex African savannas <![CDATA[<b>Characterising the geomorphic dynamics of river systems: An example of the Sabie River, South Africa</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582022000100002&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Herbivores are a main driver of ecosystem patterns and processes in semi-arid savannas, with their effects clearly observed when they are excluded from landscapes. Starting in the 1960s, various herbivore exclosures have been erected in the Kruger National Park (KNP), for research and management purposes. These exclosures vary from very small (1 m²) to relatively large (almost 900 ha), from short-term (single growing season) to long-term (e.g. some of the exclosures were erected more than 60 years ago), and are located on different geologies and across a rainfall gradient. We provide a summary of the history and specifications of various exclosures. This is followed by a systematic overview of mostly peer-reviewed literature resulting from using KNP exclosures as research sites. These 75 articles cover research on soils, vegetation dynamics, herbivore exclusion on other faunal groups and disease. We provide general patterns and mechanisms in a synthesis section, and end with recommendations to increase research outputs and productivity for future exclosure experiments. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: Herbivore exclosures in the KNP have become global research platforms, that have helped in the training of ecologists, veterinarians and field biologists, and have provided valuable insights into savanna dynamics that would otherwise have been hard to gain. In an age of dwindling conservation funding, we make the case for the value added by exclosures and make recommendations for their continued use as learning tools in complex African savannas <![CDATA[<b>Evidence that residues of tebuthiuron arboricide present in soil of Mokala National Park can be phytotoxic to woody and grass species</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582022000100003&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Mokala National Park (MoNP) has a history of arboricide use through South African National Parks (SANPs) having bought commercial game farmland for its establishment in 2007. Tebuthiuron arboricide is known to have been applied for controlling bush densification during the period 1996 to 2004. Persistent negative impacts on MoNP vegetation, which are ascribed to the historical arboricide use, have prompted this investigation from 2016 to 2017. Bioassay experiments employing as test plants the tree species Vachellia erioloba and Vachellia tortilis, the shrub species Senegalia mellifera and the grass Tragus berteronianus were conducted in a glasshouse. Growth responses of these species were assessed upon their exposure to a tebuthiuron concentration range that simulated expected levels in MoNP soil soon and long after application. Chemical analysis as well as bioassay with the test species Lycopersicon esculentum (tomato) were performed on soil samples collected from three depths (0−30, 30−60 and 60−90 cm) of the soil profile at two sites in MoNP where tebuthiuron was applied in the past. The three woody test species showed differential, negative growth response to tebuthiuron, and even growth of the grass species (T. berteronianus) was affected at the higher concentrations. Evidence provided by the tomato bioassay and analysis performed on soil samples collected in situ points to the putative presence of tebuthiuron, more than a decade after the last use of arboricides for controlling bush densification. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: If the reported evidence of the presence of phytotoxic residue of tebuthiuron in soil of MoNP would be substantiated through further research, such findings could at least partly explain the failure of natural recruitment of vegetation in those areas where the woody component was degraded because of arboricide application more than a decade ago <![CDATA[<b>Challenges and opportunities for sustainable solid waste management in private nature reserves: The case of Sabi Sand Wildtuin, South Africa</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582022000100004&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en The mismanagement of waste in protected areas may lead to significant and irreversible environmental, economic and social impacts, such as land degradation, resource depletion, surface and groundwater pollution, loss of biodiversity and impacts on the aesthetic value of these areas. This paper aims to identify the challenges and opportunities for sustainable solid waste management in privately protected areas, given the limited research conducted on this topic. A case study approach was followed, which focused on the Sabi Sand Wildtuin, a private nature reserve (PNR) in South Africa. Interviews were conducted with 30 participants, which included representatives from the management authority, commercial lodges, non-commercial properties and a waste service provider. Several challenges have been identified by interviewees. Behaviour was the most frequently mentioned challenge, where interviewees raised concerns about negative attitudes, unwillingness to implement waste management measures and a possible lack of support. Other frequently mentioned challenges included foreseen difficulties due to the size and location of the reserve and concerns around funding of waste management measures, especially given the financial implications of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) travel and tourism restrictions. The most frequently identified opportunities included creating jobs and improving livelihoods, providing assurance and transparency of what happens to waste 'beyond the gate' and improving awareness, knowledge and skills related to waste management. To optimise the opportunities towards sustainable solid waste management, PNRs should focus on aligning their strategic direction to achieve legal compliance and support community initiatives to establish waste-related infrastructure and services that cannot be implemented within the reserve. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: The pursuit of waste-related opportunities within privately protected areas could enhance the implementation of sustainable solid waste management in PNRs, whilst also contributing to pollution prevention, community upliftment and other secondary benefits, which could ultimately result in increased conservation efforts. <![CDATA[<b>Diversity and distribution of benthic invertebrates dwelling rivers of the Kruger National Park, South Africa</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582022000100005&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Meiobenthos (or meiofauna) are microscopic invertebrates that inhabit biofilms and interstitial spaces in rivers. They are diverse and extremely abundant, and they perform essential ecological functions by linking microbial production to higher trophic levels (e.g. macrobenthic invertebrates and fishes). However, meiobenthic communities remain poorly studied in Africa. Here, we sampled meio- and macrobenthic invertebrate communities associated with biofilms and sediments across an upstream-downstream gradient along the Olifants, Sabie and Crocodile rivers flowing through the Kruger National Park (KNP). We expected to link differences in community structure to environmental gradients as those rivers show different degrees of anthropogenic stress as they enter the park. Both meio- and macrobenthic communities differed across rivers and also structured along an upstream-downstream gradient. The upstream sites, which were the closest to the park borders, consistently showed a lower diversity in all three rivers. There, the invasive snail Tarebia granifera strongly dominated (making up 73% - 87% of the macrobenthos), crowding hard substrates, while concomitantly the abundances of biofilm-dwelling meiobenthos like nematodes and rotifers were substantially reduced. Nevertheless, the diversity and evenness of communities then tended to increase as water flowed downstream through the park, suggesting a beneficial effect of protected river reaches on benthic invertebrate diversity. However, for the Crocodile River, which makes up the southern border of the park, this trend was less conspicuous, suggesting that this river may experience the greatest threats. More generally, benthic invertebrate communities were driven by the concentrations of phosphates, sulphates, ammonium and organic matter and by substrate characteristics. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: Meiobenthic organisms are very abundant in KNP rivers and react to environmental gradients; thus, they should be more considered for bio-monitoring or conservation of comprehensive assemblages of animals. Interestingly, protected reaches tended to show a reduced dominance of the invasive T. granifera and a higher diversity of benthic invertebrates <![CDATA[<b>Phylogenetic placement of the enigmatic Floodplain water snake, <i>Lycodonomorphus obscuriventris</i> FitzSimons, 1964</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582022000100006&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Lycodonomorphus is a genus of lamprophiid water snake endemic in Africa. Although widespread, abundant and presumably an important component of many aquatic and semi-aquatic food webs, these snakes are poorly understood taxonomically, particularly from a phylogenetic perspective. With only four of the nine species currently sequenced, this study attempts to improve our understanding of the evolutionary relationships within the genus through the phylogenetic placement of one of the most elusive species, Lycodonomorphus obscuriventris. Collected in the Ramsar declared Makuleke Wetlands in northern Kruger National Park (South Africa), the sample used in this study not only yielded the first DNA sequences for the taxon but also represented the most northerly South African record, bridging the gap between the southern and northern populations. The snake was sequenced for three partial mitochondrial genes (16S, Cyt-b, ND4) and one partial nuclear gene (c-mos) and phylogenetically placed, relative to the rest of the genus, using maximum likelihood (ML) and Bayesian inference (BI). Sequence divergences between sister taxa were also estimated using pairwise distance analysis. The concatenated phylogenetic reconstruction yielded similar topological structuring when compared to phylogenies from past articles, with both the ML and BI algorithms recovering strong support for L. obscuriventris as sister to a clade comprising of L. whytii + L. laevissimus + L. rufulus. The phylogenetic placement, albeit based on a single sample, challenges the original placement (morphological) of L. obscuriventris as sub-specific within L. whytii, suggesting that multiple species concepts should be considered when delineating species within this group. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: Prior to the discovery of the new record, the global distribution of L. obscuriventris was characterised by two disjunct populations. The new record bridges the distribution gap between these two populations, rendering the distribution continuous. This bodes well for the species as there is likely no barrier to gene flow, thereby buffering the species from localised threats given the more expansive distribution. Furthermore, given that the specimen was sampled from the Kruger National Park, the species is likely to be well-protected as much of its distribution within South Africa seems to fall within protected areas <![CDATA[<b>The potential of frogging as an ecotourism product for South African National Parks</b>]]> http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0075-64582022000100007&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Amid global biodiversity loss, it is important to find practical tools and solutions in order to protect biodiversity. Ecotourism is the fastest-growing sector of the international travel industry and can be a powerful conservation tool that encourages people to protect the natural environment. Traditionally, frogs have not generated much attention among ecotourists, partly because they are easily overshadowed by other more charismatic species or habitat attractions. With almost a third of the nearly 7000 known amphibian species listed as threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), their protection is crucial. Frogging is a well-known term within the frog conservation society, describing the activity of searching for frogs in the wild. This can be combined with other ecotourism activities to attract tourists and create an interest in the conservation of frogs while having fun at the same time. The aim was to determine the ecotourism potential of frogs in South Africa, primarily by distributing questionnaires to tourists to retrieve information on whether they would be interested in participating in frog-related ecotourism activities within the South African National Parks. For this research, a quantitative research approach was followed, namely non-probability sampling, to which convenience sampling was applied. An online survey (questionnaire) was designed to collect the data for the research. The survey outcome was satisfactory, as potential tourists indicated that they would like to participate in frog-related activities. The project offers the opportunity to conserve frogs, educate tourists, and create job opportunities within the local communities. It will also create a new tourism product for the South African National Parks. CONSERVATION IMPLICATIONS: The contribution of this research to conservation lies in the opportunity to benefit frog conservation through ecotourism.