Original Research

Towards an adaptive management approach for the conservation of rare antelope in the Kruger National Park - outcome of a workshop held in May 2000

C.C. Grant, J.L. van der Walt
Koedoe | Vol 43, No 2 | a202 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v43i2.202 | © 2000 C.C. Grant, J.L. van der Walt | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 July 2000 | Published: 02 July 2000

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C.C. Grant,
J.L. van der Walt,

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Abstract

A precipitous drop in rare antelope numbers specifically roan (<i>Hippotragus equinis</i>) sable (<i>Hippotragus niger</i>) and tsessebe (<i>Damaliscus lunatus</i>) since 1986 has become one of the main concerns of management. The zebra (<i>Equus burchelli</i>) population in the preferred habitats of these species had increased with the development of artificial waterpoints especially in the areas occupied by roan and tsessebe, and these events are hypothesised to be the main cause of the decline. Closure of artificial waterpoints resulted in moving the high-density, water-dependent zebra from the northern basalt plains, the preferred roan habitat. However, the expected responding increase in the rare antelope populations did not materialise. This lack of response over six years necessitated a critical re-evaluation of the management of rare antelope in the Kruger National Park. Subsequently, a workshop was held at Skukuza during May 2000. The options for adaptive management of the declining rare antelope populations, which was discussed at the workshop, is the subject of this manuscript. The participants felt that the removal/closure of artificial waterpoints was the most unintrusive management tool available to move high density grazers from the habitats preferred by rare antelope. Waterpoints to be closed should be carefully evaluated, and time allowed for rare antelope to respond to habitat changes. Boosting populations of roan and tsessebe by supplementing animals was seriously considered, with the proviso that it should be done under favourable circumstances. Small patch fires that could provide green grazing over extended periods were recommended. Predator control was discussed but could not obtain general support as a viable option in the Kruger National Park.

Keywords

rare antelope, roan, sable, tsessebe, management, enclosures, artificial

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