Elephant populations in the Kruger Park have doubled in the last 20 years since being introduced or reintroduced into the safety of the park. This is good news, of course. However, it's easy to forget that these beautiful animals, in (large) enclosed areas, do significantly impact the ecosystem they live on. Elephants are destructive eaters and affect the vegetation around them. Conservation is not only about the animals, but also about the land and its flora.
In a four year study by Carnegie Institutions at the park, a mean tree-fall rate of 8 trees per hectare (or 12 percent of trees per hectare) every other year was found, which is considered very high in savanna ecological predictions.
The study is interesting in order to assist parks to understand how to manage the animal populations for the sustainable survival of BOTH flora and fauna.
At AWE, we manage the impact of our elephants on the vegetatation by giving them access to free-range feed between and across parks in the area. It's not unusual for our elephants to feed at Zebula one week and then move to Itaga another week to then be taken back to AWE.
We also recently planted more trees on our property. Now all we need is some decent rain....