Impact of Ungulates on Vegetation Composition Around Waterholes in the Western Part of Etosha National Park, Namibia
Keywords:Ungulates, herbivory impacts, waterholes, vegetation composition, Etosha National Park
AbstractEtosha National Park (ENP) is one of the largest conservation areas located in the semi-arid regions of Namibia. Artificial waterholes (boreholes) are the main sources of water for game in the park. Water availability has been largely viewed as a major factor driving ungulate’s impact on vegetation composition around waterholes. A nested-intensity sampling design was adopted to collect data from fifty-four (54) quadrats (25m x 25m) on six transects (two at each waterhole) measuring 1 800m from Renostervlei, Dolomietpunt and Olifantsrus waterholes. Results showed that there was no significant difference in species composition with increasing distance away from the waterholes. Herbivory, soil trampling, playing and fighting of ungulates among vegetation before and after drinking has impacted vegetation composition around waterholes. The impacts imposed on vegetation around waterholes by ungulates cannot be completely avoided but be reduced. To reduce the ungulate’s impacts on vegetation composition around waterholes, adaptive management measures such as controlled burning, closure of waterholes during rainy seasons, creation of new waterholes that will be evenly distributed within the park and destocking of ungulates is recommended to restore some of the plant species that may have been lost from within those localities.