Models of Bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygargus, Pallas 1766) habitat preferences in the Bontebok National Park and sustainable stocking rates

 

 

ABSTRACT

 

This study concentrates on the Bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygargus Pallas 1766) population of the Bontebok National Park. Using a combination of literature research, field observations, satellite imagery, Geographic Information System mapping and dung analysis, their habitat preferences within the Park are ascertained and compared to different behavioural and environmental factors. Considering vegetation composition and height, grass cover, burning history, general topography, water availability, actual diet quality (from faecal analysis) and population distribution, the best predictor of spatial pattern are investigated with GIS Dempster-Shafer models. The historical density distribution of the animals in the Park can be used to predict sustainable stocking rates. As far as possible, the results for the Bontebok are compared to those of the other larger herbivores in Bontebok National Park i.e. Red Hartebeest, Cape Mountain Zebra and Grey Rhebuck. These results should be useful for Wildlife Managers to know how to manage veld for Bontebok and at what stocking rates this can be done sustainably.