Original Research

Vegetation classification as the basis for baboon management in the Bourke’s Luck Section of the Blyde Canyon Nature Reserve, Mpumalanga

L.R. Brown, H. Marais, S.P. Henzi, L. Barrett
Koedoe | Vol 48, No 2 | a90 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v48i2.90 | © 2005 L.R. Brown, H. Marais, S.P. Henzi, L. Barrett | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 December 2005 | Published: 18 December 2005

About the author(s)

L.R. Brown, University of South Africa, South Africa
H. Marais, University of South Africa, South Africa
S.P. Henzi, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
L. Barrett, University of Liverpool, United Kingdom

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Abstract

The Blyde Canyon Nature Reserve (BCNR) was identified as an important conservation area due to of its extraordinary diversity of plant species. Plant communities represent ecosystems and form the basis of any management plan for natural areas. If these ecosystems and their different potentials are unknown, they cannot be managed successfully. Baboons exploit diverse habitats including human environments where they often cause damage to crops and forest plantations. Baboons are regarded as particularly problematic residents of protected areas as conventional fences do not readily enclose them, their eclectic diets allow them to benefit from a range of agricultural endeavours, and they are behaviourally opportunistic. Thus as a first step to implementing a conservation policy to manage chacma baboons in the BCNR, it was necessary to have some understanding of their exploitation of natural habitats adjacent to areas where they do cause problems. Although a broad vegetation map of the BCNR exists, no detailed vegetation studies have been conducted on the largest part of the reserve. It was therefore decided to ndertake a detailed vegetation study of the home range of a single baboon troop within the Bourke’s Luck section of the BCNR. From a TWINSPAN classification, refined by Braun-Blanquet procedures, 13 plant communities, which can be grouped into seven major groups, were identified. A classification and description of these communities, as well as a vegetation map are presented. Data collected as part of this study also revealed that the baboons show preference to certain communities whilst avoiding others. These have important consequences in terms of the management strategies followed on the reserve.

Keywords

Braun-Blanquet procedures; conservation area; plant communities; TWINSPAN; TURBOVEG; MEGATAB; chacma baboons.

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