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Tankwa Karoo National Park

Mammals

Red Hartebeest

During 25 to 29 May 2009 saw the commencement of the largest single relocation of antelope into Tankwa National Park since its reintroduction programme began in June 2004. During this week, 81 Gemsbok and 69 Red Hartebeest from Mokala National Park found a new home in Tankwa.

The introduction of antelope to Tankwa National Park is aimed at restoring large mammals as a key driver in maintaining biological diversity through trampling and herbivory disturbance. Research was thus initiated with the release of the antelope in order to study their use of, and influence on, vegetation within the Park. On capture, radio transmitter-collars were fitted to six each gemsbok and red hartebeest to track the movements of the various groups.

Vegetation monitoring began during October 2009 with species composition and groundcover to be measured on a yearly basis. The influence of rainfall, rodents and insects on vegetation cannot be overlooked and these factors will also be monitored with the first rodent survey scheduled for September 2010. As the radio transmitter-collars have an expected lifespan of 15 months, information gathered on game movements will largely be finalised by December 2010. However, monitoring of vegetation and field observations on antelope movements will still continue thereafter.

By October 2009, a further 170 springbok, 36 gemsbok and 20 red hartebeest were reintroduced to Tankwa National Park. The introduction of another 130 springbok will commence during May 2010 with six springbok also to be fitted with radio transmitter-collars. This will bring the total number of game reintroduced to TNP to 19 Cape Mountain Zebra, 213 Gemsbok, 104 Red Hartebeest and 250 Springbok.

All species have adapted very well to their new home, with various newborn noted since September 2009.


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