At our project sites in Victoria Falls and Livingstone we undertake a variety of activities to assist the local wildlife authorities in their role in managing the Zambezi, Victoria Falls and Mosi-oa-Tunya National Parks. Both agencies are lacking resources and the additional manpower provided by our staff, volunteers and interns is appreciated.
Tasks that we have agreements with the wildlife authorities to assist with include:
- Conducting snare sweeps and boundary patrols
- Invasive species removal
- Vegetation, soil and ground water mapping
- Monitoring of mammal species abundance and distribution
- Road repair, drainage channel maintenance and fire-guard creation
- Litter removal
Over the past few days the research and conservation team in Victoria Falls has been involved in picking up litter and repairing gullies that have been opened up because of the heavy rains.
As researchers we often find ourselves reaching out to areas that ordinary park visitors don`t, yet the access roads in these areas are vital for park management. During this season we have often taken the initiative to repair roads in these areas where fallen trees block the way, and by filling holes where surface runoff has created gullies that make it impossible for vehicles to cross. It’s not glamourous high-profile work, but it needs doing.
An area that we have recently focused on is close to the eastern boundary of the Zambezi National Park, which borders a residential area, and is often used by elephants and other wildlife species to access the town`s dumping site. We have been encountering piles of elephant dung that contains a lot of plastics which has been consumed by these giants whilst raiding residents` bins and from the dumping site. We have been picking up all this litter during our walking transects for the large predator occupancy survey that has also been operating in this area recently.
Repeated road transect counts of herbivore species in the Zambezi National Park since the beginning of the year has encountered 12 species, including buffalo, bushbuck, elephant and sable. All data and statistical analysis has been provided to the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority for their use in managing the Park. Monitoring at this time of year is challenging as visibility is reduced. The increased vegetation compared to the dry season, and flow of the seasonal streams within the Park, also allows the animals to distribute widely, and often in areas that are currently inaccessible.
Impala was the mammal observed with the highest abundance and density for all three months of 2016. March was the month with highest species diversity observed.
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