Reserve Management Plan

Updated Abstract from The Loskop Dam Nature Reserve Management Plan

 

 

 

1. Flora

The primary aims of vegetation management of  the Loskop Nature Reserve (LKNR) are:

 

In the long term:

  • To establish and maintain a functionally operational landscape in which biodiversity is conserved, whilst game potential is optimised.  

 

In the medium term:

  • To implement and maintain the necessary systems and procedures to ensure conservation integrity and efficient ecological management; To implement and maintain the necessary monitoring systems to evaluate change and results of applied management. 

 

1.1 Vegetation types/Veldtypes

 

Loskop Dam Nature Reserve lies on the transition between Grassland and Savanna Biomes. The vegetation of the higher lying regions of the reserve is typical of the Grassland Biome, while the lower lying areas fall within the Savanna Biome. As a result the vegetation is very heterogeneous.

 

The key environmental parameters of these veldtypes are fire and frost in the grassland; and fire and grazing in the savanna. The Mixed Bushveld veldtype is very heterogenic, and characterised by a range of variations and transitions.

 

The heterogeneity of vegetation occurs due to the heterogeneous topography and environmental factors. Important factors causing heterogeneity are aspect; soil depth and altitude. The vegetation can be physiognomically divided into apparently homogenous units. From the distribution of physiognomically important tree species, one should take note of the characteristic species in the landscape.

 

1.2 Plant species list

The MTPA plant database has currently 1016 plant taxa listed for LKNR.

 

1.3 Alien plants

 

The spread of alien invader species is a major threat to the conservation of the local vegetation. The following species have been recorded, and are being controlled: Black wattle; Poplar; Lantana; Queen of the night; Prickley pear; Jacaranda; Syringa; Sesbania; Bluegum; Guava; Thorn apple (“Olieboom”) and Pom pom weed.

 

The control of alien plant species constitutes a major portion of the reserve management budged needs.

 

1.4 Fire

 

Fire is a key environmental parameter in the local veld types. It is an integral part of the ecological system within LKNR, and must be included in vegetation management.  Fire will be used judiciously for:

 

Protection of property; Creating a habitat mosaic; Preventing accumulation of moribund material, which minimises the likelihood of dangerous wild-fires; Control of woody plants. 

 

1.5 Threatened plants

 

From the 1016 taxa listed for LKNR, a total of 65 taxa currently occur on the MPB’s list of protected plants. Of these, the most important species is Encephalartos middelburgensis. The only viable population of this species occurs on the LKNR. Some colonies of a threatened succulent Haworthia koelmaniorum and mcmurtryi occur on the reserve.

 

2. Fauna

 

2.1 Mammal list

 

A total of 70 mammal species have been recorded on the reserve. More information will be provided under the relevant headings below (see list attached).

 

2.2 Game

 

 

Objective:

 

The objective of herbivore population management is to maintain a variety of game species that occurred in the area historically.

 

Reduction:

 

  • Reductions in animal populations will be implemented when the stocking rate exceeds the carrying capacity of LKNR, or when specific population management takes place. Removals may take place as live capture, as a first option, and culling. 
  • Trophy hunting is currently taking place, where low numbers of post reproductive animals are hunted. Trophy hunting does not impact on the population growth rates, as < 3% of a population is used in this way. Specific individual animals are targeted with hunts of priority species.

 

Census:

 

Aerial game censuses take place on a regular basis, usually in August or September.

 

SPECIES North South N+S Riet Census
      Total font. Total
Giraffe 23 1 24 1 25
Kudu 279 80 359 79 438
Eland 91   91   91
Nyala 8 38 46 2 48
Bushbuck 38   38 6 44
Klipspringer 25 2 27 3 30
Duiker 34 7 41 6 47
Steenbok 2   2 8 10
Rhino 15 8 23 7 30
Hippo 15 1 16   16
Buffalo  162 16 178   178
Zebra 297 169 466   466
Ostrich 1   1   1
Warthog 53 19 72 1 73
Bushpig 3   3   3
Waterbuck 127 13 140   140
Sable 45   45 1 46
Tsessebe 61   61 15 76
Mountain reedbuck 263 22 285 47 332
Common reedbuck 8   8   8
Oribi 16   16 1 17
Red hartebeest   1 1   1
Blue wildebeest 142 68 210 19 229
Impala 574 312 886 202 1088
Baboon troop 16 1 17 2 19
Blue Crane 2   2   2
Crocodile   1 1   1
Jackal 1   1   1
Cattle 71   71   71
Horse          
Goats          

 

 

 

 

2.3 Predators

 

A total of 15 mammal predator species have been listed for LKNR. This includes some threatened species like African wild cat, aardwolf, brown hyena, serval and leopard.

 

Leopard and brown hyaena occur naturally in the area. There is no need to supplement these populations.

 

2.4 Rare/Endangered game species

 

 

White rhino:

 

The reserve supports a healthy population of white rhino. Seven animals were illegally killed during 2010. Management dehorned the population at the end of 2010.

 

Sable:

 

The reserve currently supports a population of + 50 sable. This population is steadily increasing, but it could benefit from supplementation.

 

Buffalo:

 

LKNR currently supports a buffalo population that exceeds 150 animals. These animals are regarded as carriers of Corridor disease and management is in the process to remove all buffalo from the reserve. The protected area will have to go through a two year quarantine period once all the animals has been removed before disease free animals can be re-introduced.

 

Oribi:

 

The reserve currently supports a small population. This population could benefit from supplementation.

 

Tsessebe:

 

These animals have been introduced during 2002/3. The reserve currently supports a healthy population of + 80 animals.

 

 

2.5 Small mammals

 

A total of 31 small mammal species have been listed for LKNR.

 

2.6 Birds

 

A total of 367 bird species have been recorded on the reserve. It includes important bird species such as Cape vulture, Martial eagle, Stanley’s bustard, Caspian tern, African finfoot, Bald ibis, and Blue crane. Red-billed oxpecker has been successfully introduced. The re-establishment of the ground hornbill is currently in process.

 

2.7 Reptiles

 

A total of 42 reptile species have been recorded on the reserve. Due to LKNR’s climate and topography the species composition on LKNR is diverse. It includes snakes, lizards, tortoises, terrapins and crocodiles. Pythons are regularly observed.

 

A natural population of crocodiles occurs on the reserve. However, this population is under stress, mainly due to water quality. Mining activities in the upper catchment serve as a source for heavy metal pollution.

 

2.8 Amphibians

 

A total of 19 amphibian species have been recorded on the reserve.

 

2.9 Fish and Aquatic fauna

 

A total of 42 fish species have been recorded. This includes 3 alien species.

 

Loskop Dam is a popular fishing destination amongst members of the public. The Dam is zoned in such a way that a major portion of the dam is accessible by boat to the general public. Between 6 and 12 fishing competitions a year take place on the zone of the dam that is available to the public. With some competitions up to 400 boats are present on the dam.

 

2.10 Invertebrates

 

No detailed survey has been done on the invertebrate populations on LKNR. A spider interest group recorded a total of 49 genera of spiders on LKNR.

 

Reproduced with the kind permission of the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency.