Zimbabwe

Victoria Falls

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In search of large predators

In search of large predators

In search of large predators

BY BOB MANDINYENYA

Lion Encounter and the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) have been conducting a survey to determine the distribution and density of large predators within the Zambezi National Park at Victoria Falls.

The survey team comprises Bob Mandinyenya, ecologist, Brilliant Chibura, tracker, Rejoice Mwene, an intern from the Chinhoyi University of Technology, Zim Parks and voluntourists. The objectives of the survey are to investigate the ongoing proportion of habitats occupied, the seasonal variation in the intensity of habitat use and the variation of occupancy by selected predator species within the Park.

As a general concept, the fraction of sampling units in a landscape where a target species is present (occupancy) is of substantial interest in ecology. Applications that focus on occupancy-related metrics include measures of species occurrence, range and distribution, habitat selection and modelling, metapopulation studies and wildlife monitoring programmes.

The survey is also being conducted in areas surrounding the Zambezi National Park in an attempt to assess the extent to which these large predators occupy these areas.

This survey began in June 2013 and will continue in the foreseeable future. Ongoing monitoring will give an indication of whether new populations are emerging and/or habitat use is expanding or shrinking, and also detecting seasonal changes.

The results will assist ZimParks in their management plans for these predators within the Park. The information will also help ZimParks and tour operators increase the chances of sighting these predator species, hopefully making the Park a more attractive wildlife destination,with the ensuing positive economic impact on the area.

More from this issue:
ZT17 (June 2014) - Main Menu
ZT17 (June 2014) - Full Content Listing

More from the Zambezi Traveller:
Victoria Falls Destination Profile