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 Post subject: Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 7:57 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Chacma: I don't agree with you Ifubesi in your assertion that you only need one birth for every one death to sustain the population of a species. It is a sound principle of survival of the fittest that you need many births for only the fittest to survive to go on to be a strong mature specimen.

If you read carefully I didn't say one birth for every death.
I meant one tree should become a sexually reproductive adult.
I am perfectly aware that you need many births in order for some to survive.
What I also said was that recruitment of saplings are probably isolated incidents which we may not be able to document in our insignificantly short lives.

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I very much doubt that this is in line with the current ideological stance of KNP officials, who are blowing up waterholes in the belief that these places, no matter how long they have been established, are causing an unnatural imbalance.

They are "blowing up" waterholes to address precisely the concern you have:
To decrease the elephant impact on trees near these waterholes.
Seems as though we are always unhappy with whatever Sanparks do or don't do.
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I have the feeling that the Forum is better patronised by animal lovers than tree lovers!

I can assure you that I for one am not a patronising animal lover!
I am also deeply concerned about the obvious decrease in large trees, especially Marula, Knobthorn and Baobab.
However I trust that current policies of closing artificial waterholes and bringing down trans-boundary fences are the only viable long-term solution to the problem.
I must however also agree with you that in the short term, trees may have to be protected by measures such as the packing of sharp rocks around their bases.
I really urge someone from scientific services in Kruger to get more involved in these discussions.
These are important queries that are raised and we as concerned Sanparks patrons would be more at ease if we knew exactly if and how some of these concerns are being addressed.

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 Post subject: Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 8:00 am 
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Over much of sub-Saharan Africa and particularly in managed parks and reserves the issue of very low recruitment of baobabs has been the subject of quite a bit of research over the last couple of decades and possibly much earlier.
The impact of burgeoning elephant populations on recruitment is well documented and a common factor that comes up in most studies.
However all the other climatic and localised factors in each area have at times played a role in the dwindling population of baobabs including human impact, drought and flood to name a few of the issues that interact with elephant damage.
Unfortunately, some very good papers on this subject are only available to read if you are affiliated with a subscribing university or are prepared to pay for them. (one of my pet peeves)
If you do a google search on 'baobab recruitment' you will see some examples of work done and published including studies in KNP.

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 Post subject: Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 11:07 am 
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I found This Site Has some quite interesting reading.

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 Post subject: Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 11:44 am 
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A literature review would take quite a while :wink:

But this paper is probably a very good overview of studies done on vegetation change and the role elephants play: http://www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger/co ... tation.pdf

It is a lengthy read and being a scientific paper it takes a bit of wading through but persistence in reading it will be rewarded :thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:05 pm 
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little research done in Mapungubwe by University of Arkansas

Was lucky enough to have been in Tsava in 1986 and it was after a drough period
We met the staff and were told that they did open baobabs for water.
And we did see the damage done to the trees.

Baobabs and elephants in Kruger National Park: nowhere to hide
Link to Wiley online library

So searching the net has a wealth of information. Some maybe outdated but still...

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 Post subject: Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:30 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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gmlsmit wrote:
Kruger does have a botanist on its staff. The person who heads up the Skukuza nursery is a fully qualified botanist. Yes with the duty of running the nursery. Not doing research.
She conducted a Barleria survey in the Makuleke/Pafuri region recently. They found an impressive 18 species, I understand. Qualifies as research in my book.

Johan


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 Post subject: Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:36 pm 
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Chacma wrote:
Oh where is Piet van Wyk, who wrote my bible on the trees of the KNP?
He died in 2006, I'm sorry to say.

I recommend Schmidt et al, Trees and Shrubs of Mpumalanga and the Kruger National Park. By far the most comprehensive and up to date bible out there.

Johan


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 Post subject: Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 5:24 pm 
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Ifubesi you make a very good point about the reduction of pressure on vegetation resulting from destruction of the waterholes, hand in hand with removal of boundary fences. I am delighted to find that you and I are on the same page.

Thank you Elsa for your reference to the enlightening article, it gave me a huge boost to know that people like Michele Hofmeyr are doing so much research to give us all more insight into this issue.
The point about "episodic recruitment" makes me think that such an exceptional growing event has occurred recently in northern Australia, resulting in the prolific production of saplings that I have noticed.
It is comforting to know that this issue is being researched and monitored and can be acted on in KNP if things become critical in years to come.

Thanks also to Threedogs whose reference I will follow up on, and to all the other contributors.
It is great to know the level of concern out there for our ecology.
You are my soulmates.


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 Post subject: Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2012 10:26 pm 
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It is interesting to note that driving from Louis Trichardt to Tshipise and Musina there are quite a number of small baobab trees next to the road, especially in some of the cultivated fields where the farmers don`t cut them down but protect them.
Now these trees in the cultivated fields must have the ideal growing conditions as they get water regularly in summer and there are no competition from other trees or animals trying to eat them, yet they are quite small which suggests that they are still young.
I usually go to the north of Kruger and have only seen young baobab trees on the hills around Pafuri and the Nyala loop.
Mostly on inaccessible outcrops.

Taking into consideration that these trees are succulents, then drought conditions should not affect them that much.

I have personally planted some seeds collected at Tshipise and the germination % is extremely high (considering that I live in an area outside their natural distribution area and which is prone to quite cold winters).
These trees also grows very quickly under favourable conditions, even if they get hit hard by frost as happened these last two years in my area.

The fact that the animals in Kruger are still in an enclosed area (even though it is over 2 million hectares), still puts pressure on the natural resources.
As I mentioned before, these are succulents with a huge amount of moisture and a favourite source of food for elephants and other animals.

In the Chobe along the riverfront they had a similar problem where there were no saplings of any trees reaching maturity due to browsing pressure.
The moment something green emerged on the desert-like landscape under these huge trees it got eaten by impala and other browsers.
Even the big trees got killed by porcupine ring barking them to get something to eat.

Now I am not saying that the same thing is happening here, but the fact that there are hardly any saplings seen in the park and the fact that there are quite a few outside must make you think a bit.. :hmz:

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 Post subject: Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 9:27 am 
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Very valid point taken, Roan. :thumbs_up:

I think ecologists who manage national parks and game reserves are in a bit of a catch-22.
On the one hand they need to keep the plant community in a healthy state.
On the other hand, tourists who bring in the essential funds, want to see animals and lots of them.
Natural ecosystems (with large mammals as essential components) have evolved to operate over massive areas.
Ancient migration patterns were specifically adapted to the natural water distribution patterns through the different seasons.
Most areas away from perennial rivers were probably lightly utilized and for only a small portion of the year. Large herds moved through the area and only returned the next year.

Then western civilization arrived here with their fences, roads and national boundaries which totally disrupted these ancient patterns.
Now we must try and mimic the natural state of things in small fenced-in areas.
The animals are sedentary and they need water year-round in previously semi-arid areas to survive.
We can't totally remove animals from an area for a part of the year, as would have been the case in the past when animals moved around freely.
Even if we could do that, it wouldn't go down well with the tourists who bring their pounds and dollars to see the big 5...

I don't know if there is a totally waterproof solution.
However the only workable long term alternative that exist is to enlarge game reserves by bringing down the fences and linking existing reserves with each other.
The larger the area the easier it is to restore natural migratory and water distribution patterns by closing artificial water holes and opening up old grazing areas.

I have 2 big concerns however.
Firstly, can the system cope with the high elephant population that came into existence due to past unnatural water provisioning practices?
Secondly, the ever growing human population is quickly converting all remaining natural areas into "human habitats" and on a daily basis we are losing essential habitat which is needed if this solution is to work...

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14-15 Dec 2012 Lower Sabie
16 Dec 2012 Tamboti
17-18 Dec 2012 Satara
19-22 Dec 2012 Shingwedzi
23 Dec 2012 Punda Maria


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 Post subject: Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 3:55 pm 
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Here are the pictures I promised of boabs (Adansonia Gregorii) which I took yesterday in the Kimberley region of north western Australia by way of comparison. This one is a typical stand of boabs beside a dry creek bed. As you can see, the boabs co-exist in a wide range of sizes - or ages - and do not appear to suffer the periodic event syndrome of the KNP baobab
Image

This picture is of an extremely fertile boab with her offspring nested closely around her - the result of an extreme periodic event I would think. I should hasten to add that this is very far from typical!
Image

Whilst I acknowledge that you can't make direct comparisons between species which are living in different parts of the world, it is interesting to know what is happening elsewhere.


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 Post subject: Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?
Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 8:12 pm 
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I asked staff at Pafuri Camp who live in villages just outside Punda gate, and they confirmed that saplings and young baobabs grow commonly all over the place outside the KNP. So although there may be little recruitment in the park itself, baobabs are thriving in elephant-free areas elsewhere and therefore not under threat. Maybe they are eveing doing better than in the days when elephants roamed freely all over the continent?

Johan


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 Post subject: Re: KNP baobabs headed for extinction?
Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 14, 2013 8:30 pm 
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Hi all,

Just out of curiosity - are we sure that the Adansonia gregorii above is not producing suckers as opposed to these plants actually being seedlings? (suckers = plants arising from the rootstock of the 'parent' plant). I always remember my father telling me one hardly sees seedlings of boababs because people rarely recognise them as they look quite different to the adult plants - this I suppose may account for some of the lack of seedlings seen.

But, elephants are a major concern to the botanists/plant ecologists and Yes, Kruger does have them! and they often liase with those of us not working there too - obviously we all have our specialities, and SANPARKS can not employ an infinite number of specialists. Hopefully I am not doing myself out of my dream job here, but 'botanists' are generally actually taxonomists (i.e. we name, reclassify, rename, etc), whereas what Kruger needs (and has) are Ecologists to design/implement environmental management plans, in consultations with us the taxonomists.

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 Post subject: Re: Baobab on S60 from Punda to Klopperfontein
Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 7:37 am 
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This baobab is one of the most magnificent specimen’s for me in northern Kruger and seen and admired by many traveling in these parts. Does anyone perhaps know the age of this tree?

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 Post subject: Von Weilligh's baobab
Unread postPosted: Sat Oct 12, 2013 3:53 pm 
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Can you see Von Weilligh's graffiti (initials and the date 1891) on the baobab along the S93 between Letaba and Olifants from the road? Or would you need to be on foot? If anyone has actually seen it from the road without doing the illegal thing and getting out of your vehicle, I'd love to hear from you! Thanks


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