Mammal densities in the Kalahari, Botswana – impact of seasons and land use

University essay from SLU/Dept. of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies

Abstract: In the Kalahari, Botswana, as in many other parts of the world, wildlife is experiencing an increased pressure from a growing human population and intensified land use with domestic livestock. The intensified pressure on the vegetation cover induced by livestock limits the abundance of resources and creates a fragmented landscape for wild animals. The transformation of the landscape makes it difficult for some wildlife species to co-exist with human activities. Mammal population densities in the Kalahari vary due to natural causes as well. When resource availability is lowered, during the dry season, many species migrate to adjacent and more productive areas, creating temporal variance in regional mammal density. This project aims at investigating the spatial and temporal variation in density of mammals and ostrich (Struthio camelus) in Botswana, and to study how this variation relates to human land use. The results have been compared with previous studies conducted during different season and in different regions in Botswana. All domestic and wild terrestrial mammals with a size of tree squirrel (Paraxerus cepapi) or larger, and ostrich were counted along 10 predetermined transects located in four different land use areas; Communal Grazing Areas, Fenced Ranches, Wildlife Management Areas and National Parks. Large and medium sized herbivores and carnivores are most affected by human activities and smaller mammals least. The seasonal and regional differences in the environment did not prove to affect the wildlife as much as human land use. This study shows that human land use has a great impact on wildlife and has the potential to determine its distribution. Different types of wildlife respond differently to environmental changes and my study shows the need to maintain protected areas for the existence of many species.

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