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 Post subject: Re: The Mystery behind the sable and roan decline in KNP
Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 16, 2010 11:04 am 
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Thanks Oddesy, very interesting reading. :thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: The Mystery behind the sable and roan decline in KNP
Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 16, 2010 11:08 am 
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Rooies wrote:
Thanks oddesy :thumbs_up: Did the people from Wits visit the reserves on other African countries where Sable and Roan are plentiful, to do comparative studies? Reserves like Hwange in Zimbabwe, have healthy populations of these beautiful animals.

Good point rooies :thumbs_up: and they have looked at these populations which actually in a backwards way does not help the KNP population. Because they are plentifull in the rest of their range the population in the southern extent of the range is seen by some ecologists (not all) as being of a low concern. And from what i could gather the scientific gathering in april this year in KNP had a sort of model that was used to classify problems and this being a very difficult problem to understand and therefore difficult to rectify, combined with the thriving populations further north was not classed as highly as some others :? but i could be wrong

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 Post subject: Re: The Mystery behind the sable and roan decline in KNP
Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 16, 2010 11:21 am 
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Nice article :thumbs_up:

Right now this month there is a herd of 5 young male Sable that regularly visits the firebreak between the Sabi Sands and the KNP. They like to come for the fresh shoots that have emerged in the firebreaks.

For years I have thought about the reasons why there was a population decrease. And from reading various articles etc it does seem that its a combination of factors rather than a single event. But its not just these 2 mammals that have had extreme reductions in population size. Blue Wildebeest used to occur in migratory herds of 10 000 and more. There are barely 10 000 in the park today. Species composition has varied in areas and there seems to be an overall decrease in plains mammals like your wildebeest.

Following a very interesting conversation with a reputable South African Zoologist I was intrigued at his reasons for the population declines/shifts of the various mammal species in the KNP:
Basically he explained that due to water abstraction for forestry, farming and human consumption outside of KNP (mostly to the West) the rivers run drier through the KNP than historically. The overall water table height is on average lower and as a result the KNP plant communities have shifted to favouring species that are more drought adapted. This is not to say that any plant species will become extinct but rather that those that are adapted to drier conditions will become more abundant.

I have noticed this in Sabi Sands and KNP to quite a large extent where 20 years ago many open areas or partially open areas have now become clogged with your Combretum and Terminalia species for example. Especially around Talamati and South from there in the Western areas of KNP.

I would love more intense studies to be done on historical vs present plant communities in the KNP and my personal opinion for what its worth is that no matter what we do in management of the KNP the greatest problem lies with the management of water outside the park. Millions can be spent opening and closing waterholes or whatever else but at the end of the day your plant communities are going to have one of the biggest says in determining which species can live in which areas and if water abstraction outside the park is in fact the cause of these shifting mammal populations then a scary and almost impossible task lies ahead in better management of water resources outside of the park.

:thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: The Mystery behind the sable and roan decline in KNP
Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 16, 2010 11:25 am 
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There are also a lot of artificial water holes in Hwange, but the Sable and Roan populations don't seem to be affected by it. The Giant Sable Hippotragus niger variani, found in Angola actually lives in forests near water.

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 Post subject: Re: The Mystery behind the sable and roan decline in KNP
Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 16, 2010 11:49 am 
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Rooies, as far as I know Hwange is cannot really be put in the same bracket as KNP. It is not as much of a "closed system" - e.g. there are not fences between neighbouring hunting concessions and the actual park, so lion populations are controlled by a cities quota system, something that obviously doesn't happen in Kruger; another example is that Hwanges species composition is different to Krugers so when something is gone, it's gone, whereas in Kruger they are trying to include as many of the original species as possible - so maybe there is a relationship between the species that puts pressure on the sable and roan which we aren't aware of and which isn't an issue in Hwange? It is very sad to know that Zim HAD one of the most thriving populations of sable in Africa and since the whole crisis that has been going on there in the past 5 or so years, they have been wiped out in many areas by poachers trying to find something to eat!!

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 Post subject: Re: The Mystery behind the sable and roan decline in KNP
Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 16, 2010 12:48 pm 
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BF, don't think that the lion population in Hwange is controlled. Zim parks doesn't even have money to buy diesel for the borehole pumps, so I don't think that any census or any other scientific studies are done due to the lack of funds. The influence of man is therefore absolutely minimal. As far as hunting (legal) is concerned, hunting takes place in the Safari areas, so the park still have their population of lions.

What I have suggested above is that Wits should go and have a look there and see in which habitat they are found the most, what do they eat, what are the sizes of the herds, what parasites do they have, how often do the cows give berth and so on. This data can then be compared to what they have found in Kruger.

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 Post subject: Re: The Mystery behind the sable and roan decline in KNP
Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 16, 2010 1:00 pm 
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Thanks oddesy and o-dog, very interesting.

We visited Whange then Wankie during the 1970s, it was wonderful seeing large herds of these proud Black and White animals roam the bush. We did not seem to find as many predators as in KRUGER.

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 Post subject: Re: The Mystery behind the sable and roan decline in KNP
Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 16, 2010 6:26 pm 
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Thanks again for the all the informed input to this subject.

We were chatting to Steven Whitfield last year and I recall him telling us that another problem they were encountering with the Roan Breeding programme up North was that as soon as they were released back into the wild, they fell prey to the predators more easily as they had not become adapted or accustomed to being hunted having lived in a protected environment to that point.

Another question re the closing of the water sources,
are the authorities taking cognisance or factoring in the declining water quantities coming into the park as its a known fact that a lot of our rivers are being dramatically utilised and therefore have a greatly reduced flow into the park?
All very well during the wet seasons but come the drought years, what then, and I know these are natural phenomena but the reduced capacities of the rivers are not.
No good getting a species up and running again only to have them all die off for lack of water in drought years. :?
or am I being overly and needlessly concerned?

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 Post subject: Re: The Mystery behind the sable and roan decline in KNP
Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 16, 2010 6:44 pm 
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:thumbs_up: Elsa...... that is why I pointed out that waterholes will be left where water should be available. The fact that rivers are drier because of use of water outside etc is noted. Where pans etc were known to exist in the past but have now dried up a waterhole will be left - if the area was dry in the winter then the hole may be closed over winter to mimic the natural state.

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 Post subject: Re: The Mystery behind the sable and roan decline in KNP
Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 16, 2010 9:26 pm 
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oddesy wrote:
The water points were later systematically closed and still there has been no recovery, so what is the problem? why can the population not recover. The one big factor is that not only is the northern population decreasing but so is the pretoriuskop population so water points are not solely to blame.


This was exactly the point I was trying to make, Imberbe, and please allow me to do so as you allow others to do. From the above it was clear that artificial waterholes were not the sole and perhaps not the major reason for the decline as was pointed out in another thread by EJ. I fully understand ecological balance, and the fine cups it balances on, and how difficult it is to find same again, if at all... ever. :thumbs_up:

Further, what I do not understand is that the most expensive solar power equipment [that was proudly donated by huge corporations to Kruger] were abandoned in the veld too? Why was it not 'recycled', auctioned, or better yet, donated to communities close to Kruger to enhance their lifestyles? I was saddened to see all these solar panels going to waste in Kruger. Or are these panels part of a backup plan? Ten years down the line? :hmz:


Sanparks this morning had a community drive, inter alia soup kitchens in Sunnyside. :dance: :clap: :clap: :dance: A proud moment to hear this on the radio. :clap: :clap:

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 Post subject: Re: The Mystery behind the sable and roan decline in KNP
Unread postPosted: Sun Jul 25, 2010 12:20 am 
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Very interesting thanks for posting Oddesy! :thumbs_up:


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 Post subject: Re: The Mystery behind the sable and roan decline in KNP
Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2010 8:02 pm 
A few points:

1. I don't think one should ignore the parrallel decline in Tsessebe and Eland numbers over the same years...so vegetation/parasites etc. would seem to be precluded as a factor.

2. The one common denominator does seem to be predation linked to artificial water points, and especially up north. I always ONLY saw roan at or near these points, and still do! (And Liechtenstein's Hartebeest, for that matter)...never at a river.

This would lead one to believe that these species learned to avoid river pools and their attendant lion prides, and quickly latched on to the new windmills, as they are by and large less water-dependant, and could survive more easily around smaller supplies, as compared to large herds of buffalo and wildebeest, for example. (Not zebra)

3. Historically, there were a few roan around Pretoriuskop, and MANY Sable. The same area was not known for large predator numbers at all, but that changed slowly but surely. (Eland, Tsessebe and Liechtenstein's still occur there, but artificially so, and in barely surviving numbers, after being released from the "rare antelope" camp established there as a backwater against disease outbreaks in the North.)

4. Roan are apparently extremely susceptible to Anthrax, and during the 80's were subjected to annual immunisation carried out via darts fired from helicopters, a practice which was later questioned as being very stressful on the herds...rather understandably...and possibly contributed to their sudden decline soon after.?

5. Roan have always been regarded as surviving on the very edge of their natural African range in Northern Kruger.

6. There has been an unusually wet cycle regarding Kruger as a whole for the last decade or so, probably contributing to the rare antelope once again being able to "escape" to less watered areas, and slowly recuperate over the Summer months.





To sum up:

I think the rare antelope just never had quite a sufficient numerical basis IN CERTAIN AREAS to withstand any or all of the pressures mentioned in other posts, and all have historically been scarce, except for sable around PK, and eland in the Far North.

Their numbers should improve with the new water policy, but extinct populations should be slowly reintroduced in certain areas of the Park, subject to scientific confirmation, as they are simply too isolated to do it by themselves.


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 Post subject: Re: The Mystery behind the sable and roan decline in KNP
Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2010 8:06 pm 
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oddesey, well you started the current best thread on the forum. :popcorn: :popcorn:

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 Post subject: Re: The Mystery behind the sable and roan decline in KNP
Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2010 8:27 pm 
During the 70's to end 80's Sable numbers were yearly judged to be around 1900, and eland 900.


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 Post subject: Re: The Mystery behind the sable and roan decline in KNP
Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2010 8:47 pm 
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Brilliant forum :clap:

I had often seen a small herd of about 6 Sable around the southern part of the Kruger. Near Skukuza. I was informed that it was part of a breeding programme. Does anyone know anything about this and if these guys are still around?

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