Purpose – The purpose of this study is to model and predict mammalian herbivore species abundance in Gonarezhou National Park (GNP), south eastern Zimbabwe. The study also aims to determine and evaluate the distribution-abundance patterns in GNP.
Design/methodology/approach – Using aerial survey data from 1980 to 2016, the authors use the rank abundance model to determine the abundance of mammalian herbivores in GNP. Regression analysis is used to show the mammalian herbivore species distribution-abundance relationship.
Findings – The findings point to a high species richness and evenness in the study area with common species (15%), intermediate (30%) and rare (60%). There is a positive significant relationship (p = 0.00, R2 = 0.9642) between abundance and distribution with common species occupying wider spaces and rare species occupying narrow spaces.
Research limitations/implications – Aerial surveys in GNP are not continuous and are biased towards elephants. The inclusion of other mammalian herbivore species including domestic animals in subsequent surveys made the aerial reports useful.
Originality/value – Studies in GNP have tended to concentrate on the population of mammalian herbivores and this marks a shift in emphasis in such studies. The monitoring of mammalian species improves the conservation and management of GNP. Apart from making planning and policy decisions from an informed point of view small animals also need attention as they are numerically few than the large threatened mammals.