Our Student Program: Zangarna Ecological Research
To determine the amount of animals a section of land can sustain one need to look at the type the amount of plants that the area has. This information is then converted to the Carrying capacity of the area.
Carrying capacity is calculated to the amount of Large stock Unit (LSU) per Hectare (ha). Because not all animals are the same size each animal each species has a conversion rate to a LSU.
Once the area is stocked with the desired species and amounts, monitoring of this balance is needed.
Monitoring includes veld condition assessments and Game counts.
Ecological Research includes:
Veld Condition assessments (VCA)
VCA’s are done at the end of the rainy season when it is easy to identify the various grass species. (February and March)
This is done on a weekly basis, Driving with the open game drive vehicle and physically counting the animals along a set route. The various animals’ location, age demographics and sex ratio is recorded.
During the entire programme all bird species are recorded to build up a species list of the area. This data is entered electronically and sent to a citizen science programme.
Small Mammals and Carnivore monitoring (Camera trapping)
Set locations of trail cameras are place throughout the property. Many small mammals and carnivores are nocturnal and very secretive and only seen or recorded on infra-red camera. The SD cards are change daily and the data stored on the central data base.
Alien plant control
To keep the property as natural as possible we strive to eradicate all alien plants. Many of these plants take over natural grass land and our indigenous animals don’t feed of it. Various types control is used for the different plant species, either manual/ mechanical removal or chemical treatment or a combination of the two.
The most problematic parasite is tics. The control we do is roller troughs in which , animal feed/ salt or mineral lick is place to attract the animals. As the feed from the trough, the pesticide/dip is applied to their bodies.
When the “dipping process is active the troughs needs to be checked daily and maintained.
Erosion causes the loss of valuable top soil, we are fortunate the we do not have a lot of erosion problems, but will address each site according to its need, either to pack rocks to slow the water flow or brush packing the area as to give grass a chance to grow in the area and the roots of the plants help stabilize the soil.