ALERT is pleased to announce further support of the ongoing study, "Sable habitat selection in hunting areas of northwest Zimbabwe."
A debate among large mammal scientists has been going on about the effect of sport hunting on wildlife populations. One side argues that hunted mammals have adjusted to hunting pressure and therefore thrive better than those in non-hunting areas while the other side believes the opposite is true. Zimbabwe’s Zambezi National Park is contiguous with the Kazuma Pan – Matetsi - Hwange complex, forming a total contiguous conservation area of over 1,846,700ha excluding forest reserves. Of particular interest to this study is the Matetsi Safari area where sport hunting is permitted.
This is a specific study of sable (Hippotragus niger) antelope and is a comparison of habitat use between hunting zones and national parks. The study is being conducted by the Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Management Authority and the University of Zimbabwe.
The major hypothesis is that hunted sable will select safer habitats to in response to hunting pressure, and that these areas do not represent optimal habitat for the species. Hunting utilisation levels of sable have been recorded to be one hundred percent of quota in all years, and therefore represents a species with high hunting pressure, hence its selection among many other large herbivores for this study.
It is hoped that the results of the study will allow improved conservation management plans to be created for the species, with consideration for other species resident in the Park as well, with particular respect to the regulations controlling sport hunting within the area.
During the course of the study we have provided assistance in data collection within the Zambezi National Park as comparison for data collected within the hunting area, but are happy to announce further funding to help bring this study to conclusion..