|Spot the scientists! Prizes for anyone who can name at least 4...|
|Workshops like this are the only chance for mere mortals like me to see |
inside this sort of place! Though it took days before I could walk on the zebra skins...
|Kruger, whilst rightly famous, has fences that cut once large mammal migrations|
|If we want to keep sights like this in East Africa, we have to work outside PAs too|
Here in East Africa, many protected areas were designated based upon the experience of hunters, who were mainly aware of dry (hunting) season aggregations of animals. Even Serengeti NP was gazetted without knowledge of the migratory routes. Thus many protected areas in East Africa protect only dry season refugia - even the Serengeti NP, Mara Reserve and associated game reserves don't completely contain the wildebeest migration - each year sometime in May / June, they leave the Grumeti area of western Serengeti, and cross village land to reach Ikorongo GR and back into the National Park.If this ecosystem is to be adequately protected, these village lands should be protected too or we risk disrupting the entire ecosystem.
Once borders are fixed, you've either succeeded or failed in protecting wildlife, and our group identified, in particular, the almost total failure in southern Africa to protect migratory mammal populations, and maintain adequate corridors between protected areas and another major mistake. You might not know that Southern Africa formerly had mass migrations of mammals, most spectacularly of huge numbers of springbok moving between the north-western Karoo and Namaqualand. Black wildebeest and blesbok probably migrated seasonally between the western Free State plains and the Maluti mountains. In Botswana's central Kalahari, a wildebeest population of c.200,000 animals collapsed when their dry season movement was blocked by a fence. Today, only in northern Botswana, where no fences exist, do substantial herbivore movements persist. In addition to being totally amazing, mass migrations have important influences on vegetation dynamics that cannot be maintained by resident populations, with year-round grazing commonly leading to woody plant invasion.
|The minimally protected Simanjiro is birthing grounds to many Tarangire |
wildebeest. To maintain the Tarangire ecosystem, we need to work in this area.
In East Africa, migratory movements still persist though several are depleted and all extend beyond protected areas. If we're not to loose these migrations in the same way as has happened in southern Africa, we've got to identify suitable ways to protect animals both within and outside the protected area system.
So, those are the first two lessons, and enough for today. I'll keep posting them over the next little while, but hope these first two are interesting to start with...
Fynn, R., & Bonyongo, M. (2011). Functional conservation areas and the future of Africa’s wildlife African Journal of Ecology, 49 (2), 175-188 DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2028.2010.01245.x