POPULATION DENSITY AND DISTRIBUTION OF COMMON LARGE HERBIVORES ALONG TOURIST ROADS IN GONAREZHOU NATIONAL PARK, SOUTHEAST ZIMBABWE
The aim of this study was to establish the population density and distribution of common large herbivores along tourist roads in northern and central Gonarezhou National Park, Zimbabwe. Distance sampling method was used to collect data for density and distribution of common large herbivores in April 2012. Seven transects (tourist roads) with a total of 176 km were surveyed, i.e., four transects in northern Gonarezhou and three in central Gonarezhou. A total of 17 large herbivore species were recorded. The distribution of the large herbivore species varied among transects in northern and central Gonarezhou. Larger herbivore species were more distributed in northern Gonarezhou compared to central Gonarezhou. However, there were no significant differences in the densities of common large herbivores between the two study strata in Gonarezhou (Mann-Whitney U test, all P > 0.05). We recommend the fencing of park sections where there is high human-wildlife-livestock interactions as this will help to reduce illegal hunting of animals and forage competition among wildlife and livestock, thus expanding the spatial distribution of large herbivores in Gonarezhou National Park.
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