Informations et ressources scientifiques
sur le développement des zones arides et semi-arides

Accueil du site → Master → Afrique du Sud → 2018 → The impact of elephants on thicket vegetation and other mammals in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa

Rhodes University (2018)

The impact of elephants on thicket vegetation and other mammals in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa

Nuttall-Smith, Gareth David

Titre : The impact of elephants on thicket vegetation and other mammals in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa

Auteur : Nuttall-Smith, Gareth David

Université de soutenance : Rhodes University

Grade : Master of Science (MS) 2018

Résumé
African elephants (Loxodonta africana) were absent from large portions of the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa for more than 100 years following widespread hunting for ivory. However, recent shifts in land use practices have resulted in the establishment of many private game reserves throughout the region. Some of these reserves have reintroduced elephants, raising management concerns because of the perceived impact that elephants can have on vegetation and the animals that rely on it for resources. My thesis aimed to assess the role of elephants in determining the structure and complexity of the locally important Thicket Biome and how medium and large mammals are affected. I quantified the woody and succulent components of Albany Thicket across nine reserves with elephants between May 2016 and November 2017 using a modified Point-Centre-Quarter method. Camera traps were deployed at each site for the duration of a calendar year to measure the relative abundances of all medium and large mammals at the sites. Across all study sites, climatic conditions (specifically rainfall and temperature) were the primary drivers of woody vegetation structure and diversity. Elephants appeared to have little influence since they were reintroduced at low densities 20 years ago. The associated mammal communities were mostly influenced by the height and basal area coverage of the thicket across the sites. I conclude that because elephant populations have been maintained at relatively low densities across my study sites, negative effects on the thicket vegetation and the associated mammal communities were not observed. In fact, the establishment of private game reserves, even with elephants, present may offer sustainable conservation for the threatened Albany Thicket. However, these elephant populations are still relatively new and changes to the vegetation are likely to be cumulative. Thus, future research should focus on how the vegetation is affected over time. To this end, I recommend the establishment of permanent sampling stations across all reserves with elephants in the Eastern Cape Province.

Présentation (SEALS)

Version intégrale

Page publiée le 20 mai 2020