Protecting plants from elephants : botanical reserve scenarios within the Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa

Lombard, Amanda T
Johnson, Catherine F
Cowling, Richard M
Pressey, Robert L
Biological Conservation
Publication Year: 
At current densities, elephants are having a severe impact on plant community structure and species richness in the Addo Elephant National Park (AENP), Eastern Cape, South Africa. Those species that are particularly vulnerable to elephants comprise the bulk of the regionally endemic, Red Data Book and rare species (special species) associated with succulent thicket, a vegetation type endemic to the Eastern Cape. The AENP is the only national park in South Africa that contains succulent thicket. Other thicket-containing reserves exist but have insufficient management resources. The AENP can be divided into 16 units based on management and grazing history. Using these units, we show a strong relationship between the duration of exposure to elephant impacts and the richness and density of special species in the Park. Using an iterative reserve-selection procedure, we identify a core system of five botanical reserves within the Park. This system would represent 91% of the Park's special plant species in less than 8% of its area. We recommend an implementation strategy based on the irreplaceability and vulnerability values of each unit, and each species. This involves the maintenance of three existing botanical reserves, the establishment of two additional reserves, the deproclamation of one existing reserve, and further conservation actions to ensure the protection of those special species not included within the core system of botanical reserves. We also provide suggestions for the resolution of the conflicts between elephant conservation and maintenance of plant biodiversity in the AENP.
Name of Journal: 
Biological Conservation
Resource Type: 
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Journal Issue/Article
Grassland Society of Southern Africa

The Grassland Society of Southern Africa (GSSA) is involved and concerned with the science and practice of range and pasture management. This broad field involves primarily the use and conservation of natural resources. It encompasses applied fields such as livestock production, wildlife management, nature conservation, water catchment management and range and mine-dump rehabilitation. The disciplines include, amongst others, ecology, botany zoology, range and pasture science, animal science, soil science and genetics. This collection includes journal articles from the African Journal of Range and Forage Science as well as related articles and reports from throughout the Southern African region.