Assessing Distribution Patterns and the Relative Abundance of Reintroduced Large Herbivores in the Limpopo National Park, Mozambique

This study is the first systematic assessment of large herbivore (LH) communities in Limpopo National Park (LNP) in Mozambique, an area where most LH species were extinct until the early 2000s. We investigate whether LH community parameters are linked with the availability of habitat types or the distance between sampling sites and the origin of LH resettlement. We placed camera traps in five habitat types in resettled and not-resettled areas to compare species richness, relative abundance index, grazers–browsers–mixed feeder and naïve occupancy of 15 LH species. While the richness decreased along the distance gradient of LH resettlement, relative abundance index strongly responded to habitat features. The grazer–browser–mixed feeder ratio oscillated, while from resettled to not-resettled areas, the ratio increased. Most species show a wide distribution range. The associations of most LH community parameters with habitat types rather than distance to initial release, together with the species-specific and guild-specific response patterns of LH, suggest LNP to already be in an intermediate stage of restoration. Our results highlight the importance of post-release monitoring of reintroduced wildlife as a tool to assess the success of ecological restoration initiatives in transboundary conservation areas.

Publish DateOctober 12, 2021
Last UpdatedOctober 12, 2021