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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Artificial waterholes influence large herbivore distribution patterns, Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga, South Africa

Published source details

Smit I.P.J., Grant C.C. & Devereux B.J. (2007) Do artificial waterholes influence the way herbivores use the landscape? Herbivore distribution patterns around rivers and artificial surface water sources in a large African savanna park. Biological Conservation, 136, 85-99

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Provide artificial waterholes in dry season Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

A study in 1987–1993 in a mostly dry savanna protected area in the eastern Lowveld region, South Africa (Smit et al. 2007) found that, during the dry season, areas around artificial waterholes were used by higher numbers of animals of eight out of 13 mammalian herbivore species than was the wider landscape. Higher abundances near waterholes than across the wider landscape were recorded for eland Taurotragus oryx, Burchell's zebra Equus burchelli, buffalo Syncerus caffer, blue wildebeest Connochaetes taurinus, sable Hippotragus niger, white rhinoceros Ceratotherium simum, tsessebe Damaliscus lunatus, and roan Hippotragus equinus (data expressed as model results). However, the abundance of waterbuck Kobus elipsiprimnus, kudu Tragelaphus strepsiceros, giraffe Giraffa camelopardalis, impala Aepyceros melampus and elephant Loxondonta africana was lower near waterholes than across the wider landscape (data expressed as model results). In the 1930–1980s, more than 300 boreholes were drilled, 50 earth dams were constructed and seasonal and perennial rivers were dammed across Kruger National Park (>20,000 km2). Mammals were counted during daytime by four observers, from a fixed-wing aircraft, during the dry season (May–August), in 1987–1993. Counts were made within 800-m wide transects, from 65–70 m high, flying at 95–100 knots.

(Summarised by Ricardo Rocha)