Augrabies Guru wrote:
Hi Malealea/Bush baptist/Forumites
The long awaiting answer from Dr.Marna Herbst(Ecologist)
According to her it is important to realize that Sanparks has adopted a conservation paradigm that acknowledges the flux of nature and the importance of spatial and temporal patchiness and habitat heterogenity.Therefore we have moved away from the old ''carrying capacity'' concept(farm for maximum productivity) to one that conciders that we are managing complex systems that are not stable but that are allowed to move and change within parameters.This is all part of the adaptive management approach and this will form the basis when we review the Augrabies management plan this year.
Currently there are no plan to reintroduce large predators in AFNP.The restoration and maintenance of ecosystems functions is a key objective for Sanparks and predators do play a important role in ecosystems.However many of the smaller parks are either constraint by their size or the land is degraded(agriculture etc.) or disturb or many of the ecosystems functions are not fully functioning(i.e. lack of herbivore assemblages).Each parkhas their own set of park specific objectives and for AFNP these objectivesfocus very much more on vegetation and landscapes rahter than predator introductions.Ecosystem functioning can also be achieved throught mimicking certain processes therefore the role of predators can also be achieved througt mimicking their role rather than introducing predators into the park.
In historical times,larger predators such as lions,brown and spotted hyena as well as leopard and cheetah has been recorded in the Northern Cape.However it is also important to remember that many of the species in historical times may onle have move through the area towards the Orange river,following the prey/herbivores but they may not have been permanently resident in the park/area.Therefore althought the these species historically present our parks will not be able to reintroduce them back(due to park size,degraded lands).
The leopards that you find in Augrabies is the same same species Panthera pardus that you will find in the Kalahari-all leopards in SA belong to the the same species althought in the Cedarberg the size of the leopards are smaller and they do call them Cape leopards,when looking at the genetics they also cluster separately than the rest of leopards in SA, however it is still classified as the same spesies.With reintroductions Sanparks will take into account geographic locations and species indroductions do not happen haphazardly(a good example here will be the proposal to reintroduce klipspringer in Mokala-we do not have a source population and following NEMBA disrtibution maps we need to source klipspringer from the Free state,thus can not use klipspringer from Augrabies or Karroo).
This was a detailed response,hopes it help