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Hilltop Water, Predators and Herbivores

WATER, PREDATORS AND HERBIVORES

In managing areas such as Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park one of the most difficult aspects is to achieve and maintain a balance among the different species. The fact that the reserve is fenced cause population of some species either to increase dramatically. This is because fences restrict the natural movement of animals in sera hoc food and water. Over-population of some species can have an extremely negative impact on vegetation.

The decline of some species is also course for concern, as the primary aim of protected areas is to maintain healthy population of all species occurring naturally in the area.

Traditional approaches to these challenges have been through the use of culling to reduce excess number and the re-introduction of species to boost the failing populations. The currently taken on over-population in the in the park is to identify what limited the population of the species in the past. Once this has been established, action can be taken to stimulate these conditions.

An example of the population-limiting factor in the park is the distribution of water. Many species such as impala are limited in their distribution by the availability of water. This allows other less-water depended species to exist in areas further away from water and where they do not have to compete with impala, and their numbers will thus remain stable.

The establishment of waterholes in traditionally dry areas will increase the number of impala. This will results in species specially adapted to drier conditions being replaced by impala. This could cause over-grazing and ultimately results in soil erosion. By manipulating the availability of eater in the park, the balance is affected and biodiversity loss at and therefore artificial water points are not established away from permanent supplies.

It is also essential to have the correct number of predators in a reserve that is fenced. Over-population of a particular herbivore, such as zebra, will result in that species is targeted by predators simply because there are more of them available. This will in turn prevent habitat destruction.

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