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Karoo: Animals

Addo, Camdeboo, Karoo, Mountain Zebra
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Re: Predator-proof fence extended in Karoo National Park

Unread post by FrontierPR » Thu Nov 14, 2013 10:05 am

These are the answers to the questions above from our Regional Ecologist, Angela Gaylard:

1. What is the reason for the springbok population not being able to increase to satisfactory levels?
Springbok are known to suffer from capture myopathy, and many did not survive the reintroduction in 2010. Because SANParks spent over R2 million reintroducing the springbok in 2010, we need to be sure that their numbers have stabilised before introducing cheetah. Even if lion are to catch a few springbok, that would not affect the population. However, sprinbok are one of the cheetah's favourite species and it would be irresponsible to introduce cheetah before we are sure that the springbok can sustain the expected rates of predation that cheetah will bring. Census results over the past three years has seen their numbers at between 1 600 and 1 900. We'd like to see this number stabilise at around 2 000 before considering bringing in cheetah.

2. Is it true that the high population of black-backed jackal is playing a major role?
High populations of jackal did not cause the initial decline, but once the population had reached a low level, springbok were unable to balance the birth rate with the mortality rate, including that from jackal.

3. Did park management (or SANParks management) play a role in unscientific culling of springbok a few years ago - leading to an "imbalance" in the male/female ratio? And because of this, SANParks had to buy in a considerable number of ewes to try and rectify the imbalance? This was told to me by Honorary Rangers.
Park mananagement in 2004 undertook an aggressive cull of springbok, based on the stocking rate model that was commonly used at the time. However, because the park was expanded shortly after this, the springbok dispersed, herd sizes became smaller, reducing their ability to defend themselves against predators (at that time only jackal and caracal) and mainly, their ability to breed was reduced. This reduced breeding opportunity caused the further decline of this population. However, there was never a skewed sex ratio. A scientific paper describing all of this is currently in review.

4. I am also curious to know why the buffalso was removed from the park when lion were released. Lions were released in Addo and Mountain Zebra without removing the buffalo. But when lion were released in Karoo, the buffalo first had to be removed.
There was only a very small population of buffalo in the park at the time that the lion were released, and a conscious decision was made not to try to maintain this population in Karoo anymore. Therefore, instead of leaving them there to potentially become prey for lions, they were removed to be sold to raise funds at the Kirkwood Wilflife Festival auction for the Park Development Fund.

5. The park had black wildebeest in the early years. They were also removed. Why?

Angela could not provide an answer to this question, as this happened before herr time in the organisation.

I trust this answers all the unanswered questions raised.

Fayroush Ludick
Regional Communications Manager
Fayroush Ludick
Regional Communications

Friedrich von Hörsten
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Re: Predator-proof fence extended in Karoo National Park

Unread post by Friedrich von Hörsten » Thu Nov 14, 2013 6:21 pm

Fayroush and Angela,

Thank you so much for this comprehensive answer. It makes sense.

Am glad the springbok are getting closer to 2000 level. Wonder what the true carrying capacity of Karoo is for springbok, if there is enough grazing for much more than that...

As for the buffalo, a small population like that would not stand much chance against Nossob and Bitterbal...

Thanks and God bless,

Friedrich von Hörsten
``God, I can push the grass apart and lay my finger on your heart'' -- E. St V Millay

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Leaping Lizards
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Re: Lions & Rhino in Karoo

Unread post by Leaping Lizards » Tue Jul 15, 2014 1:00 pm

Hi Eddie

After spending a few days in the park and not seeing any rhinos, we asked a ranger during our guided walk how many rhinos were in the park. He informed me that they are not allowed to say how many rhino there are in the park.

So, for the same reasons, I don’t think it would be a good idea to publish on a public forum how many rhino are in the park, if any.
August/September - Sirheni, Letaba, Talamati and Satara :P

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Re: Lions & Rhino in Karoo

Unread post by 4O4-5O4 » Tue Jul 15, 2014 6:17 pm

Eddie Lubbe wrote:Lion numbers?

I am just interested to know if there are any rhino in the park.

Hi Eddie
We were there a month or so ago, and I understand that there are 12 lion. There are some beautiful photographs and a video of them on display in Karoo NP reception. We searched high and low for them, but unfortunately they were too good for us.
Another point to keep in mind is that a huge percentage of the park is not covered by public road, so, if the lions decide to take a break, they have much space in which to do so. Some of the lion are radio tracked, so the park officials certainly do know where they are. But, like any good ranger, they will not disclose this info.
I would also prefer not to comment on your rhino question. If there are, we also didnt find them. But, its definately worth a trip to Karoo NP. In my opinion, one of the most beautiful and unique SANParks this country has to offer.

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Re: Lions & Rhino in Karoo

Unread post by Blackie » Wed Jul 16, 2014 7:08 am

We visited the KNP twice and the lions eluded us on both occasions. I understand that they are most likely to be found in the southern part of the park, but off the normal gravel road. You have to explore the two spoor 4x4 tracks in that area.

March/April 2013: Frontier Parks here we come!

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Re: Lions & Rhino in Karoo

Unread post by 4O4-5O4 » Wed Jul 16, 2014 1:37 pm

I agree, Blackie, thats the area we found numerous old kill sights, white bones and skulls.
We spend three full days driving the 4x4 routes looking for the lion. When one thinks of open karoo one imagines that a dirty great big male lion would stick out like a sore thumb. Certainly not the case, the landscape of the park is very very diverse and provides countless hiding places.
Although we never found the lion, the experience of being in total isolation for all our time there made up for it. Best park in the SANParks flower bouquet.

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Re: Lions & Rhino in Karoo

Unread post by Stoffel » Thu Jul 17, 2014 8:32 pm

Not saying where I saw them, I was fortunate to see black rhino on three occasions in the park (okay - more than 60 vists since 1990). First time saw 2 together and the next time only 1 on each occasion. Every time it was more or less at the same spot.

Saw lions once - shortly after release of the first lions. They killed a zebra near the rest camp. We could see them from our chalet stoep (but needed neede binoculars).
Chris Boucher
9 - 15 May 2017 - Berg-&-Dal
16 - 22 May - Lower Sabie
23 - 29 May - Satara
30 May - 5 June - Tsendze

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