Review Article

Community harvesting of trees used as dens and for food by the tree hyrax (Dendrohyrax arboreus) in the Pirie forest, South Africa

Elizabeth J. Opperman, Michael I. Cherry, Nokwanda P. Makunga
Koedoe | Vol 60, No 1 | a1481 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v60i1.1481 | © 2018 Elizabeth J. Opperman, Michael I. Cherry, Nokwanda P. Makunga | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 June 2017 | Published: 28 February 2018

About the author(s)

Elizabeth J. Opperman, Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Michael I. Cherry, Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Nokwanda P. Makunga, Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa


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Abstract

Forests in South Africa are harvested by local communities for multiple purposes and this affects the animals that inhabit them. The tree hyrax (Dendrohyrax arboreus) has a restricted distribution and utilises various tree species as dens and a source of food. In this article, we determined, through a series of interviews in the communities surrounding the Pirie forest, which plant species are harvested by local people and whether these overlap with those used by the tree hyrax. In addition, we determined the extent to which tree hyraxes are hunted by these communities. Of the trees used by the hyrax as dens in the Pirie forest, Afrocarpus falcatus, Schotia latifolia, Andrachne ovalis, Teclea natalensis and Apodytes dimidiata are important resources for local communities. But as these are harvested at relatively low levels, it is unlikely that current harvesting has a large impact on the tree hyrax. Opportunistic hunting occurs, but the hyrax is not targeted by hunters. Very limited commercial harvesting of A. falcatus has been taking place in the Pirie forest since 1975, but its impact on the hyrax population, although undetermined, is also unlikely to be high. We recommend that the Pirie forest tree hyrax population should be monitored by forest management in order to ascertain the impact of both commercial and community harvesting over the past quarter-century.

Conservation implications: Tree hyrax populations in the Pirie forest should be actively monitored by management on an annual basis.

Keywords

Community harvesting; Forests; Hunting; Indigenous knowledge; Medicinal Plants; Traditional knowledge; Tree Hyrax

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