Other Monitoring Projects

Chizarira National Park

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:

Vegetation Study

African Lion and Environmental Research Trust (ALERT) conducted a vegetation project in Chizarira National Park, Northwestern Zimbabwe.  The Park has very diverse vegetation starting on the Zambezi Valley floor and extending up and along plateau that sits 600 meters above the Valley. Communications with former resident park officials have highlighted that vegetation parameters have changed over time.

The change of vegetation and dynamics within the park has been attributed to factors that include herbivory, termitaria, human impact and fire regimes. African Lion and Environmental Research Trust (ALERT) in partnership with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA) initiated the vegetation study to understand and document all aspects of vegetation dynamics.

This project aimed to aid the management and decision-making process of the pristine park.  Invasive alien species were also monitored and mapped.

Chizarira National Park HEader

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.

Reedbuck Monitoring

Although the common reedbuck (Redunca arundinum) is listed by IUCN as a species of “least concern”, an up to date assessment needed 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 was 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.

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.