Original Research

Characteristics of the herbaceous layer in preferred grazing areas of six herbivore species in the south-eastern Kruger National Park

J.J. Wentzel, J. du P. Bothma, N. van Rooyen
Koedoe | Vol 34, No 1 | a414 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v34i1.414 | © 1991 J.J. Wentzel, J. du P. Bothma, N. van Rooyen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 September 1991 | Published: 23 September 1991

About the author(s)

J.J. Wentzel, University of Pretoria, South Africa
J. du P. Bothma, University of Pretoria, South Africa
N. van Rooyen, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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Abstract

The phytomass and species composition of the herbaceous layer in preferred grazing areas of zebra Equus burchellii, buffalo Syncerus caffer, waterbuck Kobus ellipsiprymnus, blue wildebeest Connochaetes taurinus, impala Aepyceros melampus and warthog Phacochoerusaethiopicus were investigated within the south-eastern portion of the Kruger National Park. The percentage frequency of herbaceous plants in Decreaser and Increaser categories, as determined by their reaction to different intensities of grazing, was established. The preferred grazing areas of the relevant herbivore species were compared in terms of phytomass, contribution of the Decreaser and Increaser categories, veld condition and degree of utilisation. The grazing areas of buffalo and zebra showed less utilisation than those of the other herbivore species. Warthog and impala were associated with over-utilised areas. It is clear that localised over-utilisation is an integral part of the natural grazing mosaic and should be managed as such in large African conservation areas.

Keywords

grazing mosaic, herbaceous layer, Kruger National Park, management, over-utilisation, phytomass, veld conditions.

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