Okavango Herbivore Research
The Okavango Herbivore Research Project started in 2005. This multi-disciplinary project aimed to increase our understanding of what factors are critical in determining the structure of the Okavango Delta's large herbivore populations.
Despite its renowned high densities of large mammals and its status as one of the few intact inland Delta systems in the world, wildlife research on the Okavango Delta remains fragmented and in many fields inadequate. Aerial surveys conducted by Botswana's Department of Wildlife and National Parks suggest that populations are unstable, with some species populations apparently increasing whilst others decrease. The underlying factors causing the perceived population instability in the Okavango Delta was not known. Therefore research was needed to acquire in-depth understanding of the population demographics, assembly patterns and movement strategies of key large-bodied herbivores found within the Delta. Combined, such information is crucial in explaining population trends and structure and increasing our understanding of the ecosystem regulatory factors.
The project has three specific aims
1. Determine the present state of the Delta's herbivore population through population dynamics
2. Investigate the relationship between resource characteristics and herbivore distribution
3. Investigate how resources and other environmental factors influence animal movement of differing scales.
Research was focussed on the Moremi Game Reserve and adjacent Wildlife Management Areas. This region provides a good cross section of the habitats within the Delta utilized by herbivores, being composed of seasonal floodplains, open grasslands and dry acacia, mopane and riparian woodland.Top