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Protected Areas and Managing Parks from an Ecosystems Perspective Case Study: Kruger National Park, South Africa C. Pringle Lecture: ECL 6080, 22 October.

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Presentation on theme: "Protected Areas and Managing Parks from an Ecosystems Perspective Case Study: Kruger National Park, South Africa C. Pringle Lecture: ECL 6080, 22 October."— Presentation transcript:

1 Protected Areas and Managing Parks from an Ecosystems Perspective Case Study: Kruger National Park, South Africa C. Pringle Lecture: ECL 6080, 22 October 2009


3 Basic Principles of Good Ecological Management A.Critical ecological processes must be maintained -key species management -habitat or ecosystem management B. Goals and objectives must derive from a deep understanding of the ecological properties of the system - you can’t effectively manage what you don’t understand -be eternally vigilant for unintended consequences of management C. Minimize external threats and maximize external benefits D. Conserve evolutionary processes -keep populations large enough to ensure against stochastic causes of extinction -ensure species retain sufficient genetic diversity to permit adaptation to changing environment

4 Playing God: Management decisions The control of nature is a phrase conceived in arrogance, born of the Neanderthal age of biology and the convenience of man Rachel Carson (1907-1964) Silent Spring (1962) Man, in the words of one astute biologist, is faced with the problem of escaping from his own ingenuity. Loren Eisely (1907-1977) Conservation is a bird that flies faster than the shot we aim at it. Aldo Leolpold 1953

5 Case Study: Kruger National Park, South Africa Linking population and community ecology to ecosystem-level management of a protected area Importance of watershed management and minimizing hydrological effects originating outside of park boundaries National and international pressures faced by park managers in Kruger Contrast with US park management View from the socioeconomic context of Africa and make contrasts with US.

6 Kruger is the largest of the 22 South African National Park (SANParks = government body responsible for managing national parks)

7 The precursor to SANParks - the National Parks Board - historically had a purist approach from that of other conservation organizations - core areas of national parks considered sacrosanct and managed with as little deviation from natural ecological processes as possible - example: game allowed to die naturally in parks during droughts in contrast to the alternative of culling and selling meat cheaply or donating it to local black communities; - principal at stake was natural selection A Purist Approach

8 20,000 km 2 (half the size of Switzerland) Employs almost 4,000 people 1.2 million visitors/yr Park extends from north- to south (350 km) and is bisected by 7 major rivers that run from west to east. 300 tree species 49 fish species 33 amphibian species 118 reptile species 492 bird species 147 mammal species - elephants - lions - rhinos


10 There is a fence around the park with 8 access gates


12 The Gardeners of Eden Syndrome?


14 Intensive water abstraction has made some perennial rivers ephemeral for prolonged periods of time


16 Crocodiles and hippos vulnerable to reduced water flows Keystone species which Play an important role in structuring riverine ecosystems and their loss can trigger cascading events in both aquatic and terrestrial foodwebs

17 While elephants can dig down to water in dessicated river beds……..

18 Most herbivorous mammals live within 6 km of surface water and water dependence is a major factor limiting their abundance

19 To increase available habitat - park managers provided artificial watering holes in formerly waterless areas between major rivers.

20 …This altered the population dynamics of many species and resulted in increased herbivore populations…

21 …followed by catastrophic collapses of the inflated herbivore populations (e.g., in 1966 and 1983) which became food- limited resulting in damaged vegetation - especially near rivers - and…..

22 ….temporary increases in carnivores and scavengers for a year or two after the herbivore population collapses followed by their subsequent collapse as their food disappeared

23 Kruger Park managers have largely stopped using groundwater fed watering holes between rivers to increase carrying capacity of park for wildlife

24 The elephant situation in Kruger - …too much of a good thing?

25 African elephant: ~3-5 million elephants in Africa in 1930s and 1940s -habitat loss and heavy ivory poaching in 1970s and 1980s -between 400,000- 660,000 elephants left in Africa today

26 The elephant management controversy in Krueger National Park currently ~12,000 elephants in park reproducing at 6-8% per year some believe that the parks’ habitat can only sustain 7,000 elephants over a long period; different theories -elephants consume 440 lbs of plant matter in a single day and are causing major changes to the vegetation of the park, destroying trees and reducing habitat available for other species increased problems from human-elephant conflicts: elephants break the park’s boundary fences and eat crops; buffalo escape (buffalo vectors for foot and mouth disease and bovine tuberculosis in livestock); elephant attacks. options for elephant population control -translocation to under-populated areas -contraception -establishment of trans-frontier conservation corridors and protected areas -annual culling

27 What has happened in other areas when elephant populations increase? In northern Botswana there are an estimated 100,000-plus elephants growing at a rate of 5% per yr and damaging vegetation in protected areas such as Chobe National Park

28 Culling in Kruger practiced from 1960s-1995; 500-600 elephants killed/yr To maintain population between 7,000-8,000 Give hunting quotas to local communities?

29 The Cultural Context of Management Decisions: Balancing the African philosophy with western ideals to protect international tourism If it pays - it stays…..there is something wrong when the opportunity to produce hundreds of tons of meat a year is spurned on the grounds of sentimentality


31 Rogue elephants and the importance of matriarchy and clans …young single and out of control: Rhinos are being murdered and the killers are juvenile delinquents of the elephantine kind Rhino bashing article in NY TIMES October 1997

32 Contraception: costly; primarily funded by international agencies

33 Elephant translocation expensive and labor intensive - up to 14 transferred at a time - translocating one elephant can cost as much as US $8,000

34 Establishment of trans-frontier conservation areas to conserve elephants -plan to establish an International Park via cross-border collaboration Between Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe -would expand protected area from 20,000 to 35,000 km 2 - hopefully leading to the development of a larger Transfrontier Conservation Area of 99,800 km 2 with a mosaic of different land uses -international funding from Germany, World Bank, USAID, IUCN, and Peace Parks Foundation -involves the translocation of 1000 Elephants in Kruger to Mozambique

35 What does the future hold for elephants? WWF launched its African Elephant Programme in 2000: -increase protection and management of elephants in Africa -build capacity within elephant range countries to manage and mitigate conflict between humans and elephants -control illegal trade in elephant products CITES says ‘No’ to ivory stockpile sale in Oct 2006 (after giving Botswana, Namibia and South Africa permission in 2002 to sell 60 tons despite widespread opposition by many governments and NGOs). Conservation groups are concerned that any relaxation on the ban on ivory will result in a explosion in both demand and supply of ivory, and a flooding of the market of both legal and illegal stocks which translates to tens of thousands of slaughtered elephants.

36 Effects of human activities outside of the park: - Water abstraction from rivers (1.5 million people live near Kruger in South Africa and several hundred thousand in bordering Mozambique) irrigation farming tree farming - Water pollution and erosion cattle grazing mining large towns and cities industrial activities - Acid Rain (coal burning in cities SW of the park result in harmful acid deposition in park

37 Communities west of Kruger

38 Sugar plantations south of Kruger

39 Irrigation of sugarcane plantations

40 Highlands & irrigated crops to the west of Kruger

41 Reservoirs in rivers upstream of Kruger

42 Exotic Eucalyptus plantations west of Kruger in highlands

43 Tea plantation west of Kruger in higlands

44 Worker homes at tea plantation


46 Management solutions for Kruger Park’s water quantity and quality problems: establishing water rights for nature: 1.Changing operating criteria of existing dams outside and upstream of Kruger to release water at critical periods and also to minimize effects of salts and smothering sediments 2.Constructing additional dams to better regulate water flow into the park during low flows. 3.Working with local stakeholders (industries to recycle effluents; mine operators divert streams around mine operations) 4. Environmental outreach activities and local environmental activist groups (e.g. Olifants River Forum) 5.Working with government (Department of Water Affairs) to treat acid waters emanating from abandoned mines; to place holds on all permits exempting mines and industries from provisions of Water Act

47 National pressures facing managers of Kruger Park A.Human rights issues -improving affirmative action programs, equal employment opportunities and non-discriminatory wage structure B.Changes in elite culture of traditional park administration and management C. Environmental outreach - involving an alienated and often disinterested national majority D. Maintenance of financial self-sufficiency

48 International pressures A.Wildlife management across international boundaries (Mozambique, Zimbabwe) 1. international cooperation to establish trans boundary protected area 2. control of poaching and human invasions B. International Animal Rights Groups 1. elephant relocation (versus culling) 2. development and implementation of large mammal birth control

49 Food for thought: Would the creation of Kruger National Park have been possible in the absence of apartheid? Can its continued existence be maintained in light of social, political and economic concerns? What else can be done to insure the perpetuity of this Park?

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