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oa South African Journal of Science - The impacts of elephants on biodiversity in the Eastern Cape Subtropical Thickets : elephant conservation

Volume 102, Issue 9-10
  • ISSN : 0038-2353
  • E-ISSN: 1996-7489

 

Abstract

We review available information on the impact of elephants on the Subtropical Thickets of the Eastern Cape province as a contribution to the current debate around biodiversity and the need to manage elephant populations. This ecologically diverse region historically supported an abundance of elephants that was incrementally reduced to a single population limited to the Addo Elephant National Park (AENP). The results of research on elephant impacts associated with this population has shown that these animals influence many ecological processes, and patterns, including soil features, landscape patchiness and plant biomass and diversity. Furthermore, elephants influence insect, bird and antelope abundances and reduce browse availability for black rhinoceros. We conclude that elephants affect biodiversity at all levels investigated but that further research is necessary to identify the mechanisms responsible. Of specific concern is the observation that the AENP represents the only current example where elephants may be driving many endemic plants to extinction. This suggests that managing elephant impacts in Subtropical Thickets, specifically, is a matter of urgency.

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/content/sajsci/102/9-10/EJC96608
2006-09-01
2019-10-17

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