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Accueil du site → Master → Afrique du Sud → 2020 → The role of elephants in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park : Perceived versus measured effects on woody vegetation

Nelson Mandela University (2020)

The role of elephants in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park : Perceived versus measured effects on woody vegetation

Mbongwa, Siphesihle

Titre : The role of elephants in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park : Perceived versus measured effects on woody vegetation

Auteur : Mbongwa, Siphesihle

Université de soutenance : Nelson Mandela University

Grade : Master of Science 5MS) 2020

Résumé
Elephants were successfully reintroduced into the 900 km2 fenced Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (HiP) from 1981 onwards and their population has increased exponentially since. Their initial reintroduction was motivated by the need to control bush encroachment and to maintain ecosystems such as grassland and open woodland, and to restore ecological processes offered by elephants. The subject of the HiP elephant population and their impact on vegetation in the Park has become controversial ; with some concerns being raised that the population is too high and is negatively affecting the vegetation. An absence of a vegetation monitoring programme in protected areas with elephants creates uncertainty leading to an ‗elephant impact‘ debate. This study aimed to compare the perceptions of stakeholders regarding the issue of elephant impact in HiP with measured elephant impact on the vegetation in the Park. The perceptions and concerns of stakeholders regarding the effects of elephants on vegetation in HiP were investigated using a questionnaire. Stakeholders reported that elephants and fire were the main factors shaping vegetation change in HiP over the past decade. Sclerocarya birrea, Senegalia burkei and Schotia brachypetala were reported as the most negatively affected species. Also reported that they are concerned about the effects of elephants on the number of tall trees in the park, tree mortality and elephant‘s effect on rare indigenous vegetation. Most interestingly, the results showed that the groups of stakeholders had different perceptions of the level of elephant impact on the vegetation in the park ; except for researchers and tourists whose were not significantly different from each other. Managers had the most respondents that reported that the level of elephant impact is unacceptable, while most researchers and tourists reported that the level of elephant impact is at an acceptable level. Vegetation plots that had been surveyed in 1999, 2003 and 2007, were resurveyed in this study during 2017 to assess elephant impact on vegetation over time.

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Page publiée le 26 janvier 2021