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 Post subject: Re: Karoo Tortoises
Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 06, 2010 4:35 pm 
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Louis

The Leopard tortoise (Bergskilpad) is obviously one of the five. I have also seen Angulate tortoise (Ploegskaarskilpad) and Tent tortoise (Knoppiesdopskilpad) in the park. Boulenger's Padloper (Karoo Padloper) will also be in the park as well as the Parrot-beaked Tortoise (Papegaaibekskilpad).

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 Post subject: Re: Karoo Tortoises
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 07, 2010 1:23 pm 
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Baie Dankie Stoffel

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 Post subject: Re: Karoo Tortoises
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 07, 2010 3:14 pm 
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Louis

My apology - I was wrong with the Parrot-beaked Tortoise (Homopus areolatus). It is the Greater Padloper (Groot Padloper - Homopus femoralis) which is also to be found in Karoo National Park.

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 Post subject: Re: Karoo Tortoises
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 8:37 am 
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Thank you Stoffel for the correction.

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 Post subject: Re: Karoo Tortoises
Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 12, 2010 3:45 pm 
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The five tortoise species in Karoo NP are:

1.The leopard tortoise (Geochelone pardalis) – black dots on its earth-coloured shell give it its name;

2. The tent tortoise (Psammobates tentorius) – is equally distinct with yellow and black geometric designs on its shell;

3. The angulate tortoise (Chersina angulata) – the shell of this tortoise has slightly curved shields which give it the very apt name of “ploegskaarskilpad” (ploughshare tortoise) in Afrikaans;

4. The Karoo Padloper (Homotus boulengeri) - this is undoubtedly the most common tortoise in the Karoo and it is also often called the “donderweerskilpad” (thunder storm tortoise). Its great activity during stormy weather earns it this name – these tortoises seem to always take to the road when thunderstorms or bad weather is about and this has also led farmers to believe that tortoises head for the hills and high ground if flooding is imminent. Similarly dry seasons are indicated when these padloper (road walker) tortoises head away from the koppies into low lying areas.

5. The Greater Padloper (Homotus femoralis) – this is the larger cousin of the common padloper tortoise. It is easily identified as it has four claws on its front feet – all other tortoise species have five.

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 Post subject: Re: Karoo Tortoises
Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 12, 2010 6:38 pm 
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:wink:
Thanks Megan hope to meet you in December

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 Post subject: Re: Predator-proof fence extended in Karoo National Park
Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 12:55 pm 
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mh_baer wrote:
Visitors who have to plan in advance because they have longer journeys need to rely on the information that's posted on the SANParks-Website http://www.sanparks.co.za/parks/karoo/

Quote:
The Karoo National Park has a wide variety of endemic wildlife. Many species have been relocated to their former ranges - such as black rhino and buffalo, as well as Cape mountain zebra.



Such outdated information on the website is indeed misleading. It is quite a considerable time since the lions were released in the park and no mention is made of their relocation. And lately brown hyenas too. And there are no more buffaloes in the park as they were removed before the release of the lions.

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 Post subject: Re: Predator-proof fence extended in Karoo National Park
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2013 4:10 pm 
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I wish a spokesperson for the Karoo National Park, or Frontier Parks, or SANParks can inform us about the latest status regarding the planned release of cheetahs in the park. Can a moderator maybe "press on somebody's button" to give us an answer?

This has been coming on for a number of years now. The park fence has originally been electrified for the release of cheetahs. In the meantime lions and brown hyenas have been released. The speculation about the sustainability of the springbok population (foreseen to be the main prey for cheetahs in the park) has been raised on this forum before. But we never receive a clear and unadulterated reply.

I have once shared what I heard from one of the park's honorary rangers. Another forumite nearly stoned me (with words) and a spokesperson for the Frontier Parks (at that stage) said that it was not the full truth.

Thus - what is the situation regarding the planned release of cheetahs? And if the springbok population plays a role in this decision - what is the reason that their numbers apparently struggle to increase to desired levels?

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 Post subject: Re: Predator-proof fence extended in Karoo National Park
Unread postPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2013 5:54 pm 
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Lion Queen and Stoffel, thanks for asking re. cheetahs. Would be so special to have them there!

Re. my previous posting -- I would NOT got to Karoo NP for a "Big 5" experience, and also appreciate the quiet and peace of the Karoo (I lived in Willowmore for 4 years, and loved it).
My concern is that most roads are in view of the N1, and trucks and vehicles don't give the feeling of quiet and peace. I still think the 4x4 routes to the West should be upgraded, and a camp there, away from everything, close to the mountains with the possibility of lions lying in front of your caravan or tent .... now that would FEEL wild to me!

I suppose I have been spoilt by camping at Mana Pools (no fences, camp among buffalo, lions, elephants, hyenas on a river bank...), so by comparison, Karoo is a bit "tame".
I am pleading for access to the wilder parts of Karoo, but only in a very basic camp with basic facilities and minimal impact on the environment.
Is that asking too much?
I can only hope!

God bless,

Friedrich von Hörsten

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 Post subject: Re: Predator-proof fence extended in Karoo National Park
Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2013 9:11 am 
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The introduction of cheetah into Karoo National Park is still on the cards. However, as we hope you can understand, any new introductions should be planned and carried out according to planning regimes and depend on the availability of resources.

A population - in this case, springbok, cannot recover in a short space of time of one to two years. Their numbers need to be monitored over a length of time to ensure that should cheetah be introduced, it won't put a possible additional strain on their numbers.

Please bear with us.

Fayroush Ludick
Communications Manager - Frontier Region


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 Post subject: Re: Predator-proof fence extended in Karoo National Park
Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2013 11:16 am 
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Hi FrontierPR

The feedback given is much appreciated, I do have a couple of questions though.

Since the "Jackal removal" and the introduction of Springbok, have there been a count or estimate of the numbers? Are there any signs of numbers increasing?

I am a regular visitor to Karoo National Park and always watch the Sightings Thread but for some reason it is just not as active as some of the other smaller parks for example Augrabies and Mountain Zebra. Will this change in the future?


Do appreciate the time taken to answer everyone's questions.
Pedre


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 Post subject: Re: Predator-proof fence extended in Karoo National Park
Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2013 8:25 pm 
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Hi Fayroush,

Thanks for the answer!

It still does not say very much -- in essence it is the same answer we have been receiving since the first news reports of the fence going up in time for the World Cup in 2010 -- every year we ask the same question, and evey year there is this same neutral answer without actually giving figures...

How about giving us the stats: Springbuck in 2010 = 500; 2011= 520; 2012 =600; 2013 =400 or whatever. Then we could understand your concern.

To put it another way -- you are happy to have 10+ lions in the park (surely they catch a springbuck or two even though it is not their main prey item), but not even 1 cheetah, that would eat far less than a lion... doesn't make sense to me.

Still, thanks for bothering to answer!

God bless,

Friedrich von Horsten

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 Post subject: Re: Predator-proof fence extended in Karoo National Park
Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2013 9:02 pm 
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I also appreciate the fact that somebody gave us some sort of answer - however, quite a frustrating answer as our questions are not really addressed.

1. What is the reason for the springbok population not being able to increase to satisfactory levels? Is it true that the high population of black-backed jackal is playing a major role?

2. Did park management (or SANParks management) play a role in unscientific culling of springbok a few years ago - leading to a "imbalance" in the male/female ratio? And because of this, SANParks had to buy in a considerable number of ewes to try and rectify the imbalance? This was told to me by Honorary Rangers.

3. Can we hear the truth - the absolute truth and nothing but the truth? If not - why not?

I love the park. I spend 3 - 4 weeks per year in the park (26 nights so far for 2013). I am not criticising with my questions. But I get the impression that some facts are withheld.

I am also curious to know why the buffalo was removed from the park when lions were released. Lions were released in Addo and Mountain Zebra without removing the buffalo. But when lion were released in Karoo, the buffalo first had to be removed.

The park had black wildebeest in the early years. They were also removed. Why?

I hope we (as the visitors and lovers of this park) can get the true answers.

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 Post subject: Re: Predator-proof fence extended in Karoo National Park
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2013 10:05 am 
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These are the answers to the questions above from our Regional Ecologist, Angela Gaylard:

1. What is the reason for the springbok population not being able to increase to satisfactory levels?
Springbok are known to suffer from capture myopathy, and many did not survive the reintroduction in 2010. Because SANParks spent over R2 million reintroducing the springbok in 2010, we need to be sure that their numbers have stabilised before introducing cheetah. Even if lion are to catch a few springbok, that would not affect the population. However, sprinbok are one of the cheetah's favourite species and it would be irresponsible to introduce cheetah before we are sure that the springbok can sustain the expected rates of predation that cheetah will bring. Census results over the past three years has seen their numbers at between 1 600 and 1 900. We'd like to see this number stabilise at around 2 000 before considering bringing in cheetah.

2. Is it true that the high population of black-backed jackal is playing a major role?
High populations of jackal did not cause the initial decline, but once the population had reached a low level, springbok were unable to balance the birth rate with the mortality rate, including that from jackal.

3. Did park management (or SANParks management) play a role in unscientific culling of springbok a few years ago - leading to an "imbalance" in the male/female ratio? And because of this, SANParks had to buy in a considerable number of ewes to try and rectify the imbalance? This was told to me by Honorary Rangers.
Park mananagement in 2004 undertook an aggressive cull of springbok, based on the stocking rate model that was commonly used at the time. However, because the park was expanded shortly after this, the springbok dispersed, herd sizes became smaller, reducing their ability to defend themselves against predators (at that time only jackal and caracal) and mainly, their ability to breed was reduced. This reduced breeding opportunity caused the further decline of this population. However, there was never a skewed sex ratio. A scientific paper describing all of this is currently in review.

4. I am also curious to know why the buffalso was removed from the park when lion were released. Lions were released in Addo and Mountain Zebra without removing the buffalo. But when lion were released in Karoo, the buffalo first had to be removed.
There was only a very small population of buffalo in the park at the time that the lion were released, and a conscious decision was made not to try to maintain this population in Karoo anymore. Therefore, instead of leaving them there to potentially become prey for lions, they were removed to be sold to raise funds at the Kirkwood Wilflife Festival auction for the Park Development Fund.

5. The park had black wildebeest in the early years. They were also removed. Why?

Angela could not provide an answer to this question, as this happened before herr time in the organisation.

I trust this answers all the unanswered questions raised.

Fayroush Ludick
Regional Communications Manager


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 Post subject: Re: Predator-proof fence extended in Karoo National Park
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2013 6:21 pm 
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Fayroush and Angela,

Thank you so much for this comprehensive answer. It makes sense.

Am glad the springbok are getting closer to 2000 level. Wonder what the true carrying capacity of Karoo is for springbok, if there is enough grazing for much more than that...

As for the buffalo, a small population like that would not stand much chance against Nossob and Bitterbal...

Thanks and God bless,

Friedrich von Hörsten

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