Other Monitoring Projects
The African Lion & Environmental Research Trust (ALERT) conducts various monitoring projects in Chizarira National Park, in support of Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA). These projects include:
The effects of an invasive non-indigenous plants species, Lantana Camara on the indigenous vegetation of Chizarira National Park
Given that Chizarira is a Protected Area with pristine flora and fauna, it is important ecologically and economically for the presence of any exotic plant species to be monitored. One such exotic species introduced into Chizarira National Park is Lantana camara.
Originating from South America, it has been classified as an invasive tree species in most parts of the world. It is not surprising however that it is invading gorges in Chizarira as it thrives in riparian ecosystems. Its effects have been studied in some parts of Zimbabwe [Gonarezhou (Chatanga, 2008)], but that has not been done in Chizarira National Park. The study seeks to assess the effect of L.camara on native vegetation growth, regeneration and condition of existing indigenous plants in its immediate proximity. Camera traps will be placed to identify ungulate and bird species that benefit and aid in the dispersal of L.camara seeds.
It has also been hypothesised that some small prey species such as the bushbuck use the thickets as cover & refuge from predators leading to change in their population dynamics through its presence.
The Assessment of the population status of reedbuck (Redunca arundinum) in Chizarira National Park
Although the common reedbuck (Redunca arundinum) is listed by IUCN as a species of “least concern”, an up to date assessment needs to be carried out of the population since human encroachment and fires are rapidly shrinking the narrow habitat type necessary for reedbuck.
In Chizarira National Park, reedbuck are often seen in the grasslands and vlei areas but this habitat type is decreasing as wet areas dry up and annual uncontrolled fires reduce tall grassland to stubble.
The overall aim of this monitoring project is to obtain reliable estimates of population size, structure, trends (yearly and seasonal) of the reedbuck populations inhabiting the restricted vegetation type that the species needs.
Initially, reedbuck habitat will be mapped out and then camera traps will be placed around these areas to capture the presence, structure and number of reedbuck. Later as the study evolves conservation work to conserve habitat will be carried out including preventing wet areas from drying out.
Raptor and vulture sightings and mapping
Chizarira lies in the BirdLife Data Zone where over 400 bird species have so far been recorded. The project looks at identifying raptor and vulture species and mapping their occurrence.
Vultures are essentially carrion-eaters but are classed as a carrion raptor. Other information such as nesting and prey and carrion species will be collected. The data will be shared with the African Bird Atlas Project (SABAP2), a project that aims to monitor bird populations across the region including Zimbabwe, Lesotho, South Africa, Namibia and Swaziland.
SABAP2’s objectives are to provide a scientifically rigorous, replicable platform for tracking the impacts of environmental change on Southern African birds through time and space by means of standardized data collection on bird distribution and an index of abundance. It also aims to increase public participation in biodiversity data collection and public awareness of birds through the large-scale mobilization of citizen scientists/volunteers.
One of Zimbabwe’s 20 Important Bird Areas (IBA) is the Chizarira National Park Protected Area System.