The sable In the Pretoriuskop Region:
Thought some forumites might find this interesting. I explained the rationale behind the decline in sable in the north but those ideas do not hold for the herds found within the south, so why have the number of herds of sable declined from a recorded >20 in 1977 to only 4 now??
Pretoriuskop receives over 700mm of rain every year and as such when artificial waterpoints were installed very, few were setup in this area because of the greater moisture availability, so the waterpoints could not be the reason for their decline in that area.
Between 2006 and 2009 the 4 herds in the pretoriuskop area were tracked and studied. They looked at food resources, as well as aspects of topography and vegetation that influence resources.
In 2008 the Carnegie Airborne Observatory conducted hyperspectral imaging and LiDAR (light detection and ranging) flights over the areas of the current home ranges and historicsal home ranges of the sable and provided this Raw data to the scientists. This data provided a 3-dimensional map projection and measured vegetation structure, composition and chemistry , really impressive technology!. other data collected included phenology, greeness, height, feeding vs non-feeding site etc.
It was found that sable show a significant preference for areas of intermediate to high tree canopy cover while they show some avoidance for areas dominated by shrub cover. They avoid bottomland areas (which basically means that they avoid river channels and the lower slopes of a catenal profile). The data also showed that there is a significant influnce of termite mounds (if you look at a large scale, large area) in the home ranges occupied by the herds.
There is also no significant difference between current home ranges and historical home ranges which suggests that more factors need to be considered before we can understand the decline of the sable population in southern kruger. Although ; the findings do show that the habitat is suitable for sable.
so not by any means a definitive answer but the centre for African Ecology seems intent on finding out the reasons for their decline