Skip to Content

Fever Tree Forest is Dying

Find, identify and discuss the plants of all the SANParks
User avatar
Chacma
Posts: 35
Joined: Sat Nov 05, 2011 3:10 am
Location: Top of a fencepost

Fever Tree Forest is Dying

Unread post by Chacma » Thu Nov 17, 2016 9:40 am

Sadly, the days of the iconic fever tree forest near Crooks Corner are numbered. It is being destroyed by elephants. The elephants are tearing the bark off with their tusks and stripping it away with their trunks. I sat and watched this a few days ago. The trees don't need to be ringbarked, even a relatively small section of exposed sapwood then rots out the trunks.
Image

The trees then just topple over.
Image
Image

This is the result of elephant overpopulation.
The forest will not regenerate because the saplings are being eaten as soon as they emerge.
Show your children the fever tree forest before it disappears!

User avatar
Albert
Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger
Posts: 786
Joined: Tue May 02, 2006 11:07 am
Location: Western Cape

Re: Fever Tree Forest is Dying

Unread post by Albert » Thu Nov 17, 2016 2:44 pm

Interestingly enough, I was fortunate enough to be able to visit the (far more extensive) fever tree forest(s) just north of the Levuhu River near Crook's corner about three weeks ago (in the Makuleke concession). So while the forest near the Pafuri picnic site has certainly diminished over the past few decades, this does not appear to be the case just a few km to the north.
What was very interesting to me though, was to learn that the section of fever tree forest that I am referring to was only established after floods in the late 1970s. I had always had this notion that these trees had been around for a very long time. We also learnt that the fever trees have a relatively short life-span. (In this regard Chacma's comment regarding the destruction of saplings is very relevant).
Latest lifers: Grey-backed Cisticola, Ludwig's Bustard, Tractrac Chat, African Reed Warbler, Black-bellied Starling, Plain-backed Pipit, Common Buttonquail, Cutthroat Finch, Freckled Nightjar

User avatar
Chacma
Posts: 35
Joined: Sat Nov 05, 2011 3:10 am
Location: Top of a fencepost

Re: Fever Tree Forest is Dying

Unread post by Chacma » Fri Nov 18, 2016 6:04 am

Thanks Albert, I would love to see the forest to the north.
Yes fever trees are fast growing, I have one in my garden.
Apparently a huge number of saplings emerged on the south side after the last floods, but they are all gone now. The survival of the forests really depends on a balanced ecosystem, and the abudance of elephants is throwing it off balance.

User avatar
Elsa
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 15637
Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:31 pm
Location: Sheffield Beach KZN North Coast, South Africa

Re: Fever Tree Forest is Dying

Unread post by Elsa » Fri Nov 18, 2016 8:44 am

I also do think the extreme drought is having an effect on the behaviour of the ellies as much of their natural other food is unavailable.
Lets hope the good rains come soon to the north of the park to get the other vegatation growing and help alleviate the situation somewhat.

User avatar
Chacma
Posts: 35
Joined: Sat Nov 05, 2011 3:10 am
Location: Top of a fencepost

Re: Fever Tree Forest is Dying

Unread post by Chacma » Fri Nov 18, 2016 1:53 pm

Yes Elsa I agree that they do destroy bark more in times of drought.
However this damage has been going on for some years now, the toppled trees are well rotted.
Since culling is no longer considered palatable, I see only one alternative: vasectomies all round!

johanrebel
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 511
Joined: Sun Mar 05, 2006 4:34 pm

Re: Fever Tree Forest is Dying

Unread post by johanrebel » Wed Apr 05, 2017 7:36 pm

Chacma wrote:Apparently a huge number of saplings emerged on the south side after the last floods, but they are all gone now. The survival of the forests really depends on a balanced ecosystem, and the abudance of elephants is throwing it off balance.
I can confirm that the Fever Tree forests on the northern side of the Luvuvhu, as well as along the Limpopo and east of Nwambi Pan are in rude health. Plenty of recruitment after the 2013 floods too, and boy are they growing fast.

I do not think there is any major difference in elephant abundance on either bank of the Luvuvhu, so there must be other factors in play. Bear in mind that elephant numbers also fluctuate strongly according to the season. In winter they are a dime a dozen, in summer there's nary an elephant to be found. As soon as the rains come the herds scoot right out of the valley, leaving only a few bulls at best.

Johan


Return to “Plants”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests

Webcam Highlights

Addo
Submitted by valcook520 at 16:18:16
orpen
Submitted by MegganS at 10:09:31
satara
Submitted by MegganS at 10:20:19
nossob
Submitted by Anonymous at 10:08:13