Long-term ecological monitoring


Climate monitoring

Objective: One of the mandates of a LTSER is to understand the response of socio-ecosystems to environmental changes. In this context, we record weather data for Hwange LTSER in order to describe climate changes.


Data and monitoring facilities: ♦ A weather station is operational at Main Camp.

♦ National parks have collected data on rainfall and temperatures since the early 20th century.


Waterhole monitoring

Objective: Understand the dynamics of aquatic food webs in temporary and permanent waterholes in relation to changes in physico-chemical parameters of water, management of pumping, use of water and climate change.


Data and monitoring facilities: ♦ Monitoring of permanent and temporary waterholes inside and outside the park.

♦ Sampling in different seasons to carry out different types of analysis (physicochemical, plankton, etc.)


Vegetation monitoring

Objective: Understand the dynamics of the vegetation (structure and composition) and in particular the risk of bush encroachment in response to climate change, the heavy pressure exerted by elephants on vegetation (both inside and outside Hwange National Park) and the use of vegetation by humans in the periphery of the park.

Data and monitoring facilities: ♦ Permanent vegetation plots and transects to monitor changes in the vegetation (structure and specific composition in woody plants) inside the park.

♦ Monitoring of natural resource use, woody and non-woody, in communal areas (for construction, heating, food).

♦ Monitoring of vegetation outside the park (structure of habitats for wildlife, response of woody species to their use by humans).

♦ Realization of a map of the different types of habitats from Landsat images (resolution 30m) for the park and its periphery.


Biodiversity monitoring

Objectives: (1) Identify communities of species that are indicative of environmental changes (climatic, habitat structure and quality, pressure of human use). (2) Estimate changes in the composition of some of these indicator communities in response to changes in known environmental variables.

Data and monitoring facilities: ♦ Monitoring of land bird communities in response to habitat changes caused by elephants.

♦ Monitoring of land bird communities in communal areas according to the type of land use.

♦ Monitoring of waterbird communities in the protected area and in communal areas according to the types of waterholes and wetlands.

♦ Monitoring of woody plants sensitive to aridification or exploitation.


Large mammal population abundance monitoring

Objectives: (1) Estimate population densities of large herbivores and large carnivores. (2) Detect long-term trends in population abundance. (3) Understand the structuring of communities.

Data and monitoring facilities: ♦ Monitoring by road counts of populations of large herbivores since 1999 inside the park and since 2008 outside.

♦ Monitoring the abundance of large herbivores by 24-hour counts at waterholes (inside and outside the park). Data collected by WEZ (Wildlife Environment Zimbabwe) and available since 1972.

♦ Monitoring of large carnivore population abundance by calling experiments (spotted hyaenas) and spoor counts (lions – monitored by WildCRU – Oxford University) inside the park and at its periphery.


Large herbivore population demography monitoring

Objective: In a context where climate change affects the availability of resources (water, the quality of the vegetation) and where anthropogenic pressures strongly influence the abundance of large carnivore populations, it is important to describe changes in survival rates and reproduction of large herbivores and to understand the relative role of bottom-up and top-down processes in the population dynamics of large herbivores in order to predict their future dynamics.

Data and monitoring facilities: ♦ Individual identification (by photo-identification) of zebras since 2004; more than 300 known individuals.

♦ Individual identification (by photo-identification) of giraffes since 2010; more than 200 known individuals.

♦ Annual marking of impala fawns since 2000.