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Tankwa Karoo National Park

Mammals

2009 saw the commencement of the largest single relocation of antelope into Tankwa Karoo National Park. Since its reintroduction programme began in June 2004 with ten Cape Mountain Zebra, 114 Gemsbok, 89 Red Hartebeest and 170 Springbok have since found a new home in Tankwa. These animals were followed by a further 245 Springbok and 60 Eland between 2010 and 2012.

The introduction of antelope to Tankwa Karoo National Park was aimed at restoring large mammals as a key driver in maintaining biological diversity through trampling and herbivore disturbance. Research was thus initiated with the release of the antelope in order to study their use of, and influence on, vegetation within the Park. On capture or release, radio transmitter-collars were fitted to six gemsbok, red hartebeest and springbok each to track the movements of the various groups.

The radio transmitter-collars had an expected lifespan of 15 months, but some continued to capture data for more than a year thereafter, providing valuable information on the initial distribution of these antelope. Monitoring of vegetation and field observations on antelope movements still continues.

Vegetation monitoring began during October 2009 with species composition and groundcover measured on a regular basis thereafter. The influence of rainfall, rodents and insects on vegetation cannot be overlooked and these factors are also monitored, the first rodent survey being done during September 2010.

The first aerial game census for the Park was conducted during March 2013 and all species have dispersed through large areas of the Park, with numbers also showing a marked increase to those released. However, further introductions of Cape Mountain Zebra and other species are planned for 2014 onwards, to ensure genetic viability of generations to come.

Reintroductions of other species occurring historically within the area, such as Brown Hyena (Hyaena brunnea) and Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) among others, are also being investigated for the future.


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