Original Research

Ground survey of red lechwe in the Linyanti swamps and Chobe floodplains, northern Botswana

Phemelo Gadimang, Gaseitsiwe S. Masunga
Koedoe | Vol 59, No 2 | a1413 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v59i2.1413 | © 2017 Phemelo Gadimang, Gaseitsiwe S. Masunga | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 June 2016 | Published: 23 May 2017

About the author(s)

Phemelo Gadimang, Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Gaborone; Okavango Research Institute, University of Botswana, Botswana
Gaseitsiwe S. Masunga, Okavango Research Institute, University of Botswana, Botswana


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Abstract

A ground survey of red lechwe was carried out in the Linyanti swamps and the Chobe floodplains of northern Botswana in the dry and wet seasons of 2012 and 2013, respectively. We documented numbers, sex ratio and age structure of red lechwe within the linear strips of 25 km × 300 m along the Linyanti swamps and the Chobe floodplains. Results indicated a significant difference in the numbers of red lechwe between sites and seasons. About 66 and 755 red lechwe were estimated for Chobe in the dry and wet season, respectively, with 343 and 261 of them estimated for Linyanti in the dry and wet season, respectively. In Chobe, the red lechwe densities varied widely between seasons (9 red lechwe/km2 – 101 red lechwe/km2 ) compared with Linyanti, where the densities did not vary much between seasons (35 red lechwe/km2 – 46 red lechwe/km2 ). The lower densities of red lechwe in Chobe in the dry season when compared with the wet season suggest a possible seasonal shift in the distribution of red lechwe to the nearby Zambezi floodplains in Namibia.

Conservation implications: The higher number of red lechwe in the Chobe floodplains in the wet season indicates the potential of the floodplains as a habitat for this species in that season. The dry season shift in the distribution of red lechwe in Chobe presents an opportunity for local communities in Namibia to engage in tourism, whereas the return of the red lechwe to the floodplains in the wet season ensures protection of the animals as well as boosts the tourism potential of the Chobe National Park.


Keywords

Aquatic ungulate; degradation; population dynamics; red lechwe; wetland; floodplain

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