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Water SA

On-line version ISSN 1816-7950
Print version ISSN 0378-4738

Abstract

ZISADZA-GANDIWA, Patience et al. Abundance, distribution and population trends of Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) in Gonarezhou National Park, Zimbabwe. Water SA [online]. 2013, vol.39, n.1, pp.165-169. ISSN 1816-7950.

The Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) is an iconic or keystone species in many aquatic ecosystems. In order to understand the abundance, distribution, and population trends of Nile crocodiles in Gonarezhou National Park (GNP), southeastern Zimbabwe, we carried out 4 annual aerial surveys, using a Super Cub aircraft, along 3 major rivers, namely, Save, Runde and Mwenezi, between 2008 and 2011. Our results show that Runde River was characterised by a significant increase in Nile crocodile abundance whereas both Save and Mwenezi rivers were characterised by non-significant increases in Nile crocodile abundance. Overall, we recorded a significant increase in total Nile crocodile population in the three major rivers of the GNP. The non-significant increase in Nile crocodiles in the Mwenezi and Save rivers was likely due to habitat loss, through siltation of large pools, and conflicts with humans, among other factors. We suggest that GNP management should consider halting crocodile egg collection in rivers with low crocodile populations and continuously monitor the crocodile population in the park.

Keywords : Abundance; aerial survey; Nile crocodile; population; river; Zimbabwe.

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