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The impact of African elephants on Acacia tortilis woodland in northern Gonarezhou National Park, Zimbabwe

, : The impact of African elephants on Acacia tortilis woodland in northern Gonarezhou National Park, Zimbabwe. Journal of Arid Environments 75(9): 0-814

We investigated the impact of African elephants (Loxodonta africana) on the structure and composition of Acacia tortilis woodland in northern Gonarezhou National Park, southeast Zimbabwe. A. tortilis woodland was stratified into high, medium and low elephant utilisation categories based on evidence of elephant habitat use as determined through dung-count surveys in relation to distance of woodland patches from perennial and natural surface water sources. The following variables were recorded in each study plot: tree height, species name, number of species, plant damage, basal circumference and number of stems per plant. A total of 824 woody plants and 26 woody species were. Highlights: High elephant browsing on Acacia tortilis woodland degrades vegetation structure. Vegetation species diversity does not differ between elephant utilisation areas. Elephant utilisation on A. tortilis woodland vary with distance from surface water sources. A. tortilis woodland is gradually being transformed into an open woodland.


DOI: 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2011.04.017

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