The African Lion & Environmental Research Trust (ALERT) conducted various monitoring projects in Chizarira National Park, in support of Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA). These projects included:
Monitoring of the invasive species, Lantana Camara
Given that Chizarira National Park 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 National Park as it thrives in riparian ecosystems. Its effects have been studied in some parts of Zimbabwe [Gonarezhou (Chatanga, 2008)], but this was not done in Chizarira National Park. This study aimed to assess the effect of Lantana camara on native vegetation growth, regeneration and condition of existing indigenous plants in its immediate proximity. Camera traps were placed to identify ungulate and bird species that benefit and aid in dispersal of Lantana camara seeds.
Raptor and vulture sightings and mapping
Chizarira National Park lies in the BirdLife Data Zone where over 400 bird species have so far been recorded. This monitoring project looked 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 was monitored. The data was 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.