Book Selection

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Book Selection

  1. 1. ‘The sharks I dodged, the tigers I slew, what ate me up was the bedbugs.’ Bertolt Brecht
  2. 2. Copyright Disclaimer Copyright 2009, Hamilton-Fynch. All unauthorized reproduction strictly prohibited. Any unauthorized re-distribution will be considered a copyright infringement and grounds for a lawsuit. This book and the opinions and advice contained within it, is not a substitute for informed medical or other opinion and advice.
  3. 3. Introduction: –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 7 Chapter 1: –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 10 Your Immune System ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 10 Boosting Your Resistance –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 11 Chapter 2: –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 13 Large Mammals ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 13 Elephant ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 16 Hippo –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 18 Chapter 3: ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 19 Reptiles –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––-––––––––––––––––––– 19 Snakes ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 19 Types of Venom and Symptoms –––––––––––––––––––––––––– 20 Treatment of Snakebite –––––––––––––––––––––––––– 21 Avoiding Snakebite –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 22 First Aid for Snakebite ––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 22 Snakebite First Aid Summary ––––––––––––––––––––––– 24 Crocodiles ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 25 What To Do and What Not To Do ––----------------------------– 27 Chapter 4: ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 29 Down by the Seaside ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 29 Sharks ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 29 What To Do and What Not To Do ––––––––––––––––––––––– 32 Bluebottles/Portuguese Man o’War ––––––––––––––––––––––––– 34 Stingrays ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 34 Mussels –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 34 Cone Shells ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 35 Moray Eels –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 35 Stone Fish –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 36 Electric Rays ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 37 Sea Urchins ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 37 Chapter 5: ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 38 Insects and other Creepy Crawlies –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 38 Mosquitoes –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 39 Malaria ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 40 Malaria Symptoms –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 40 Anti-Malarial Drugs –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 41 Avoiding Mosquito Bites –––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 42 Mosquitoes and HIV ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 42 Flies ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 43
  4. 4. Houseflies –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 43 Blow flies ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 43 Flesh Flies –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 44 Tsetse Flies ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 44 Sandflies ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 45 Blackfly –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 46 Ticks ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 46 Tick Fever ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 47 Lice –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 48 Fleas ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 48 Jigger Fleas –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 49 Bed Bugs ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 49 Beetles ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 49 Bees ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 50 Spiders ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 51 Dangerous Spiders –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 53 Widow / Button Spiders –––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 53 Violin Spider ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 54 Sac Spider ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 54 Six-eyed Sand Spider –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 54 Scorpions ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 55 General Prevention and Treatment of Insect and Creepy Crawly Bites ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 56 Insect Repellent and Bites –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 56 Table of Major Insect Borne Diseases ––––––––––––––––––––––– 58 Chapter 6: ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 59 Parasitic Intestinal Worms –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––-––––––– 59 Tape Worms ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 60 Nematode Worms ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 60 Chapter 7: –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 62 Hygiene Related Waterborne Diseases ––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 62 Hepatitis –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 62 Cholera, Typhoid, Salmonella, Giardia and E-coli –––––---––––––– 63 Travellers’ Diarrhoea –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 64 Chapter 8: ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 65 Serious Viral and Bacterial Diseases ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 65 Polio ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 65 Meningitis ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 66 Diphtheria ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 66 Tuberculosis ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 66 Chapter 9: ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 67 Bilharzia ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 67 Chapter 10: –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 70 STDs –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 70
  5. 5. Chapter 11: –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 71 Plants ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 71 Chapter 12: –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 73 Sunburn / Sunstroke and Keeping Cool ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 73 Eye Irritations and Infections –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 75 Chapter 13: –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 76 Important Vaccinations –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 76 Controversey ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 76 Tetanus –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 77 Hepatitis ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 77 Diphtheria ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 77 Measles, Mumps, German Measles, –––––––––––––––––––––––– 77 Influenza –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 77 Pneumococcal ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 77 Chickenpox –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 77 Chapter 14: –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 78 Drinking Eating –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 78 Drinking ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 78 Eating ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 79 Chapter 15: –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 80 Malaria Prophylactics–––––––––––––––––––––------––––––––––––––––– 80 Chapter 16: –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 82 Personal Hygiene ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 82 Chapter 17: –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 84 Storms and Lightning ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 84 Chapter 18: –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 86 Personal Security –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 86 On the Street and on the Road –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 86 Mugging ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 88 Document Back-ups ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 89 Chapter 19: –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 90 Travel First Aid –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 90 Hardware –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 92 Other Stuff ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 92 Chapter 20: –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 93 Emergency / Survival Kits ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 93 A Basic Survival Kit ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 94 Luxury Survival Kit –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 95
  6. 6. In about 1175, Prester John wrote of the Afro-Indian region:- ‘. . . in our domains live elephants, dromedaries, camels, hippopotami, crocodiles, metagallinari, cametenus, tinsirete, panthers, onagers, red and white lions, white bears and black- birds, mute cicadas, gryphos, tigers, jackals, hyenas, wild oxen, centaurs, wild men, horned men, fauns and women of the same species, pygmies, men with dog’s heads, giants forty cubits tall, monocles, cyclops, a bird called the phoenix, and almost every kind of animal that lives beneath the heavens.’
  7. 7. No wonder some people are a little Nile crocodile––well you were on apprehensive about a holiday to the same river––and if you know the Africa, and Prester John didn’t even crocodile performance specs. no touch on all the interesting parasites one will doubt your story. An Ameri- and diseases. can friend of mine, took this licence a little too far (in my opinion) when This book is about everything––well he claimed he’d almost been blown lots of things––you don’t know up because he’d been here in the about health risks you might face on Lowveld of South Africa at the same a trip to Africa, and to equip you to time as a bomb blast in Cape Town deal with them without paranoia. A 1,800 kilometres to the south. list of things to look out for, cloaked in a package that we hope you will Since so many of these health find interesting and even entertaining; problems concern parasites, flesh as Rossini boasted, eating microbes, and result in liquid gut content spillage and copious ‘Give me a laundry list and I’ll amounts of blood following removal of some portion of the anatomy, set it to music.’ after dining story time is obligatory. Actually many of these risks are glo- Having said that, we have lived in bally common throughout the tropics Southern Africa for 40 years, largely and sub-tropics––Mexico, Costa outdoors in various natural habi- Rica, Belize, Thailand, Malaysia, tats in the region, from the ocean India and the rest. Africa at least to sand forests, savannahs and doesn’t have that loathsome little swamps, and apart from bilharzia, Amazon fish the candiru, that is two or three spider bites, a couple of alleged to swim up your urine scorpion stings, a single squirt from stream, although scientific opinion some sort of acid spraying beetle in suggests that is an urban myth. a suburban bed, another squirt from a spitting cobra, and thousands of Those problems that you are most mosquito and sand fly bites, we likely to experience are given the have escaped unscathed. I did once most space, but you ought to know get bitten by a not very poisonous about some of the others, because snake, but I had provoked it just to they provide good material for post- see what it was like to be bitten. In prandial stories and make you seem fact my only serious injuries inflicted more intrepid. You could dine out for by an animal were administered years on how you narrowly escaped by a neighbour's rotweiler and a becoming breakfast for a six metre
  8. 8. runaway horse. What follows is a ‘If I don’t know I know, I think Although there is much of impor- guide only. It’s not intended to be a I don’t know’. tance to anyone on a tour bus or substitute for informed professional even living in Africa in the book, a medical advice––which means your good deal of it is for those of you Although if you are sensible, you G.P. may not be the best advisor who are off on your own adventure are unlikely to suffer any severe either. You need to distinguish and out from under the protective illness or unfortunate encounter between a doctor with 25 years’ wing of a guide. with wildlife during your trip, if experience and a doctor with one you do, the consequences could year’s experience repeated 25 If you do get off the beaten track, be serious. Take care, but don’t times and who needs to read the a little common sense and knowl- be paranoid, measure the risks, package insert when prescribing edge might save you spending your take precautions and follow up on your tropical disease prophylaxis or holiday hunched over a toilet bowl. anything you feel is an uncertainty– treatment. Although a good part of Africa 'ain’t –above all enjoy yourself. for sissies'––it’s not Europe or the Specific travel health advice is USA––whatever you might think The fact is that the economy of important on an individual basis, after visiting Johannesburg or much of Africa is increasingly de- to take into account the personal Cape Town. Your consciousness of pendent on tourism. Africa is home health of the traveller, medical and possible threats is likely to be no to around 1,100 species of immunisation history, intended more than liminal except if you are mammals, Southern Africa alone activities, itinerary, style of travel, in real trouble. You'll have a great has about 300 species of land type of accommodation, time of time and you'll never forget Africa. mammals, 37 species of marine year, altitude and length of stay. mammals and over 900 species Whether to have some vaccines or of birds. There is spectacularly not, such as rabies and tuberculo- diverse scenery, from savannahs sis, may be very much influenced and forests to the ±4,000 metre by specific destinations, risk and Drakensberg, the volcanoes of East length of stay. In the context of Africa, the incomparably dry Namib, malaria, locality specific and up- coastal mangroves and wetlands. to-date advice is essential. British As result, Africa is a premier Airways travel clinics are an excel- destination for eco-tourists. lent start. Tour operators, hotels and lodges You should not underestimate the have made huge investments in potential for ‘health challenges’ (or their operations and just can’t in plain English, to get very sick, afford to have guests falling prey to injured or worse) to ruin your day. wild animals or contracting diseases from their kitchens. Take the perspective of philosopher R. D. Laing seriously;
  9. 9. Your Immune System What you need to remember is that you do have an immune system, which has evolved, according to some opinions, from a viral infection of one of our remote animal ancestors and which now resides in your system. As for which ancestor, well not everyone is comfortable with even their recent evolutionary origins but we’re not talking Neanderthals, Australopithicines or even apes here, we’re talking about an ancestor that will make you much more uncomfortable, a lamprey, some 450 million years ago; it’s a parasite itself. 0
  10. 10. You also have a well-developed There are three main defence It’s actually your own and instinctive sense of repulsion systems, the anatomic response; immune system that provides at the thought of close contact the inflammatory response; and the the protection, not your with many things that are poten- immune response. The anatomic tially dangerous, from flies, oozing defence is the simplest and taken doctor or the immunisation wounds and stinking drains to for granted. It includes protection fluid itself, so have faith in crocodiles. Independent of age, by the skin, nostrils, mucous your immune system. culture and gender it’s a good membranes that line our lungs, and instinct to follow. stomach acids, all of which either kill or isolate most potential infec- Boosting your resistance tions. The second line of defence is There are some things you can do About six billion people, the inflammatory response, which to enhance your natural resistance. actually the world’s entire causes increased inflammation and population, are exposed to If you’re coming from a temperate an allergic response at the site of innumerable bacteria, viruses an invasion and finally, there is the climate and have a skin unused to and fungi every day. immune response, your system’s sun, you can raise your skin’s ultimate weapon against infections. protective capacity and reduce Many of these are potentially lethal, potential cancerous damage by but 450 million years of evolution Occasionally, when viruses, bacteria boosting your anti-oxidant intake has given us an immune system and other organisms mutate, or two months or so before you leave that protects us––under most when you move to a new environ- home. circumstances. ment with a new suite of diseases unfamiliar to your immune system, During this period and during your Our immune system is a sophisti- or if you suffer a heavy invasion by visit, many health practitioners cated, interactive masterpiece com- viruses and bacteria, it can’t cope recommend a supplement of 1,000 prised of an array of cells, tissues and that’s when you’ll need help. mg per day of Vitamin C, 500-550 and enzymes, each with specific Remember that there are people mg of Vitamin E and a carotene tasks, and all working together to with immune systems so efficient cocktail. provide defence. It works so well that they are able to carry hepatitis that the great majority of a vast and typhoid without suffering ill Cider vinegar and olive oil airborne mist and waterborne soup effects themselves––and just look taken together, and a glass of infections, from viruses to blood at what your dog can eat without of red wine (or two or three) parasites are easily eliminated. even throwing up. As a whole, it’s one of the most is said to be a good way complex biological systems known, Immunisation simulates natural to get a shot of vitamins, and your best defence against infections and allows your body to including Vitamins E and C health problems whilst travelling is prepare immune responses ahead and a belt of antioxidants to maintain it. of time. Trust your doctor if he including carotenoids. recommends them.
  11. 11. Some naturopaths recommend information, is even more ily, provided they are addressed cutting down sugar intake, paying enthusiastic about red wine than quickly, although sometimes special attention to a high intake I, so in this instance I invariably treatment spans a longish time of dark green leafy vegetables choose his advice since it usually frame. and citrus, and taking pro-biotic involves red wine consumption to supplements which boost the level support the immune system. Don’t count on cures for encounters of protective bacteria in your gut. with large crocodiles or large Echinacea is also said to boost If your immune system does let you mammals, they are much faster your immune system. I’m inclined down, pretty much all the and far stronger than you imagine towards homeopathy but consequences of suffering an at- and after a close encounter you unfortunately, most naturopaths are tack by any of the creatures (apart may have no need for medical less enthusiastic about red wine from the heavy duty ones with assistance at all. Your immune than I am. My doctor, actually a teeth) and diseases which follow system won’t be of much help either. pathologist so he has inside are curable, more or less eas-
  12. 12. Large Mammals The best advice with regard to wildlife encounters is to ignore the TV programmes that stage encounters suggesting you can take liberties with wild animals and walk away from the experience. Perhaps you might survive––but probably not. Treat wildlife with great respect. Most people will instinctively avoid the obvious ‘red in tooth and claw’ threats, like lion, leopard, rhino and buffalo, but beware the apparently laid-back elephant and hippo.
  13. 13. So there we were, a warm after- but it can also happen in the short deaths caused by hippopotamus. noon in the bush, driving along in grass. And if you do survive the The seventh victim was killed by a our pick-up, obeying the speed initial biting, clawing, goring and bull elephant with toothache. limit, not drinking beer (I have trampling, then make sure you get friends who might dispute this, and expert medical treatment. Wounds During the same period there were I did once hear the BBC’s Jeremy rapidly turn septic, you may 14 non-fatal attacks on tourists, Clarkson claim it was obligatory contract tetanus, and/or a severe including five by hippo, three by to be drunk whilst driving a pick- and resistant staphylococcal buffalo, two by rhino, and one each up truck), ticking birds off our subsidiary infection, and most by a lion, leopard, zebra and a list, when we came across a car threatening of all, rabies. musth elephant (a bull elephant stopped in the middle of the road. looking for a party). All except the A short, stout, balding man, pale Any bite from a wild animal, incident involving the elephant in as a gecko’s belly, wearing pink musth took place when tourists were or even domestic if you don't pastel shirt and pale blue shorts, on foot. Without a guide you are know the owner, should be white socks and sandals––German likely to make mistakes and to mis- for sure––was wandering from the treated as if the animal had interpret animals' behaviour––and road into the long grass waving a rabies. if you try to approach them they will video camera in the direction of almost certainly misinterpret yours. a giraffe. His wife was spreading The treatment is no longer the un- a picnic on the bonnet of the car. pleasant series of large injections Don’t take risks, and make Thing is, this was the Kruger Park into your abdomen that it used to sure your guide, if you are on and apart from it being illegal to be. Untreated, the consequences of foot, knows exactly what he wander about on foot, it’s not what rabies are as fatal as ever. informed adventurers do. Giraffes or she is doing. routinely kick lions to death and this In the 10 years from 1988 to 1997 guy didn’t even have a rough beard South Africa requires that field seven tourists, were killed by wild or a copper bracelet. guides pass a stringent training mammals in South Africa. Three of programme to make your wildlife the four deaths from lions were a experience both memorable and Almost all mammals from result of sheer stupidity when tour- safe. squirrels to lions and ists on foot tried to take close-ups of lion prides without the benefit of elephants will bite, gore, rip, a telephoto lens. In general, when in wildlife kick or trample you if they areas, stay in your car, raise feel threatened or provoked. An inquiry found that the fourth the windows when there are death was caused by negligence baboons close by and give Peter Hathaway Capstick, who on the part of management of a way to game on the road. earned full colours for hunting in game reserve. Ignorance of animal Africa, once wrote about it––it’s behaviour and a flagrant disregard called ‘Death in the Long Grass’–– of rules were the cause of two
  14. 14. Incidentally if you are thinking of feeding baboons you might like to know that a large male baboon has larger canines than a lion, so if you do embark on a feeding relationship that turns sour when he decides he wants everything you have to eat in the vehicle, you can expect trouble. Would you offer a Hell’s Angel a beer and then tell him you were saving the rest for later? I don’t think so sunshine. There are two mammals perceived as essentially non-threatening but with which tourists habitually take liberties, and both of these are extremely dangerous––elephant and hippopotamus. Elephant
  15. 15. Be especially wary of elephants, don’t try to thread your car through a herd on the road and particularly don’t get between a cow and her calf. Adults in herds are always mostly females and they always have calves of various ages in the herd. Protective mothers with young calves are much more dangerous than the big old bulls. Adolescent and full grown males tend to be alone or in small groups of two or three and unless they have a hangover, a wound or are hell-bent on some recreational time with a female, they are not usually a problem. The lone males with the dark wet patches running down their faces from the glands between their ears and eyes are elephants to avoid, these are the ones in musth. For that you can read extreme sexual tension. When these males encounter you, they feel as you did when you had just passed your driving test and finally are in a car at a drive- in movie with your dream girl, the windows steamed up, movie forgotten, necks already bruising––and then a popcorn vendor knocks on your window. To the elephant you are the popcorn vendor. If one of these bulls approaches you, reverse calmly until you can get out of his way (this works for
  16. 16. popcorn vendors too). You may fill it with fruit (or popcorn) and then Keep your engine running if you’re have to reverse a long way –– we spend an idyllic two weeks in the watching a herd with young at close once had to do this for a kilometre. pit eating fruit and making love. quarters. At picnic sites, especially If you are somehow stuck in your if you are the only people there, car between an elephant and a keep your eyes peeled. Elephants Do not drive too close to hard place, keep cool, and if a move almost silently and before elephant and pay attention to charge looks serious i.e. his/her you know it, several can be trunk down or rolled up and ears their behaviour, they will let sharing your picnic (they are very back against the sides of the head, you know when you are fond of oranges). try revving your engine, s/he may getting too close. If you think change its mind––or not. Remember picnic sites are they are uneasy, they probably are. Keep an exit just another piece of real Incidentally, talking of drive-in movie theatres, it’s not true that route open––avoid ‘rock and when elephants pair they dig a pit, a hard place’ scenarios.
  17. 17. Hippos (although you may see bubbles or Unlikely as it may sound, hippos Thinking of a kayak trip and you a vague v-shaped wake marking are sometimes also found in the think crocodiles are dangerous? their track). sea, close to estuary mouths. Well so they are, but: They are especially In many areas, numbers of Hippos kill more people in aggressive when courting wild mammals are greater Africa than any other females or busy with than they have been for a large animal. territorial disputes. hundred years. Leopards are now common in many places, Take this quote in a Lowveld Hippos tend to stay in the same including some suburban newspaper by a fisherman who pools with deep water and had shared a pool with a hippo areas. At night, in the camps sandbanks for long periods, so and been bitten when he tried to guides generally know where to in reserves, stay tuned in to retrieve his nets. ‘I was surprised expect them. If you’re on foot, take what is happening around to see my intestines hanging out.’ care in and near shady places on you. Although you will feel –– well you would be wouldn’t you? river banks in the afternoon where very secure, all the big five He was lucky. they might hang out, especially if a and many other mammals nearby known favourite pool looks Wildlife photographers Des and uncharacteristically quiet. including hippo have been Jen Bartlett have a brilliant found inside fence lines, and underwater hippo sequence during If you get between them and the many camps do not have a which they are almost bitten in two water you are likely to be ground fence at all. Use a torch and (well into four I suppose, there are bait for crocodiles. two of them) by a hippo. Des got a don’t creep about. If there is tusk through his calf and Jen a tusk In particular, hippo might make their anything around, you ought through her face mask. way from rivers and waterholes to ensure it knows you’re Give them a wide berth when onto the lawns of camps to graze coming before you’re forced you’re in a boat (hippos, not Des ––‘Death in the Short Grass’––and to meet without the benefit of and Jen Bartlett), take care if they it has happened more than once. seem aggressive and submerge an introduction. with their business end pointed in your direction because they cover a lot of ground along the bottom where you can’t see them
  18. 18. Reptiles Snakes Most people are unreasonably frightened of snakes, most snakes, over 80% in Africa, are harmless. But that means 20% are venomous (not ‘poisonous’, a little technical perspective that game guides like to use to intimidate you), and you need to avoid a confrontation with them. There are an estimated 20,000 snakebite deaths per year in Africa (WHO).
  19. 19. If you do see a snake, you will be it ruined the weekend. Never, ever If you find a snake in your extremely lucky, most people never confess if you lose a large snake in hut, call someone to take it see a snake, much less one of the your home. out. more exciting ones; dangerous and both chilling and beautiful, like a In all probability, by the time Keep your eye on it all the time black mamba. you see it, the snake will and try not to frighten it into moving already be on its way to as somewhere that will make it hard The best thing to do is to to catch. All snakes are extremely far from you as possible. If freeze until it leaves, or if you good at disappearing into the back not, then give it room. Don’t just can’t stand the tension, of fridges, into stoves, bedsprings, try to catch or kill it. and apparently the thin air of make a very slow retreat. bathrooms. Spitting cobras and rinkhals can A 300 mile round trip, hitch spray venom two or three metres hiking both ways to bring a Types of venom symptoms so be cautious. Snakebite (except girlfriend teaching in a distant It greatly assists decisions on treat- in a bottle) is extremely unusual in school back to my place for the ment if you know what snake has tourist environments. Don’t even weekend. It’s dark and late, but the bitten you. If you don't, the symp- think about it––but if it does candles have been lit, the wine cork toms, if there are any, will fairly happen, follow the drill. popped, a casserole bubbling on quickly give a reliable indication of the wood stove. The salad is pre- which major group has inflicted the Very small, newly hatched pared; extra virgin olive oil, balsamic bite. vinegar. A crisp baguette laced with snakes are as venomous garlic and butter is warming in the as adults, so be cautious. The neurotoxic venoms of most oven filling the house with a rich Some species such as cobras and mambas which affect and savoury fragrance. the entire nervous system are indi- rinkhals and some cobras, cated by slurred speech, drooping sham death very ‘Time for a quick shower?’ she eyelids and difficulty both swallow- asked––’Yes, just let me catch my convincingly, so don’t pick ing and breathing. python in the bathroom first’. I had one up because it looks dead been given a three metre python and you’d like a snakeskin Cytotoxic venoms destroy tissue as I was leaving home, and locking and are standard issue to adders belt. it in the bathroom seemed a good and spitting cobras. They cause idea at the time, now it’s missing. pain and swelling at the bite and Thread a snake shamming death Losing a three metre python and in the affected limb, and swollen through your belt loops and subse- worse, admitting it and trying to lymph glands. The tissue damage quent necrosis may determine the get your date to help you hunt for and necrosis (tissue death) can extent of your family line. it is a mistake. I never found it and result in gangrene in the affected although a non-venomous snake, limb and even parts of the torso 0
  20. 20. well removed from the site of the Most of the stories of dying in especially in the field, because punctures, weeks after the initial minutes are fantasy and there are of the risk of anaphylactic shock. bite. Most bites in Africa are much better fantasies to indulge in Asthmatics or people who have inflicted by puff adders. if you’re headed to hospital––like been treated previously, are Juliette Binoche, the nurse in the especially vulnerable. In hospital, movie “The English Patient”–– antivenin, drips, antihistamines, Slow acting cytotoxic venoms although I think you’ll find the small blood transfusions and respiratory may take days to kill you. print in your insurance policy support are routinely administered. indemnifies your insurer against Boomslangs and vine snakes have failing to supply a similar nurse. Even without treatment, most haemotoxic venoms which destroy Unless a fang penetrates a blood your blood vessels, but they are people survive the bites of vessel, you probably have at least rarely seen, are back-fanged and most venomous snakes. 12 hours before death, even with- so find it difficult to sink their fangs out supportive first aid. However into you, except on fingers and a black mamba can deliver up toes and perhaps wrists, but they to 400 mg of venom; 10-15 are not aggressive. However if you mg will kill an adult. Without are bitten by one of these, medical treatment, death treatment is essential. from mamba bites might be in anything from 15 Untreated severe bites from minutes to three hours. these snakes will almost certainly be fatal; antivenin is Treatment of snakebite Treatment today is largely not readily available but since supportive, with a reluctance the venom acts slowly there by doctors to use anti is time to find venin, treatment.
  21. 21. There are powerful little suction There may be long-term effects around barefoot at night. Oops! kits which may help suck out some and life support systems may be You’ve been bitten! of the venom, but they have to be necessary. used immediately. Sucking the bite Firstly don’t panic, get out of with your mouth probably won’t If you keep a cool head, the way and try to get a look help and could be dangerous; and ultimately you are almost besides, if you’re on your own at the snake. certain to make a full recovery you’re likely to experience extreme difficulty sucking the back of your even if bitten by a black Admittedly this is not easy in the knee joint. mamba. dark, but it is important because you may not have been bitten by a Non-venomous snakes such as venomous snake at all. Your time would be better pythons can sometimes cause spent applying a compres- problems since many of them eat Don’t take chances––two sion bandage and making rats and so may have a whole suite bites are much, much worse a phone call. Venom in the of infective agents living on their than one. The symptoms will eyes is extremely painful but teeth. Pythons in particular can indicate which venom has it can be washed out with inflict very nasty tearing bites susceptible to infection and leave been administered. water, cold tea or even urine. teeth embedded in the wound. Just be sure the irrigation of the If a snake bites and hangs on eye is thorough and get medical Avoiding snakebite to you, don’t let it chew. Pull it advice. A vet told me to wipe my To avoid bites, take reasonable off and throw it away in a nice dog’s cornea lightly with cotton care––step onto and not over logs smooth motion, but be quick wool whilst irrigating it with and rocks, wear shoes and baggy or it will bite your hand. water after the dog had received trousers, especially at night, look a serious spray of cobra venom. It where you put your feet, where brought off a mucous film stuck to you put your hand when you grab If someone is bitten by a the cotton wool; and in answer to branches in trees, keep your tent snake, assume it's venomous your question, urine in a healthy zipped up and shake out your if you are not sure. Phone person is sterile. sleeping bag, clothes and shoes for help and keep the victim before you get into them. still and reassured in order to A snakebite is going to hurt slow down fluid transport in quite a lot and be very First aid for snakebite the body. The most important unpleasant for the victim. Of course you may have been thing is to get the patient to a watching too much television, know better and try to catch your snake, doctor, preferably in a or you may have been walking hospital.
  22. 22. It’s a great help if you can alert let the victim lie down and wait If they bite, they may strike repeat- the hospital in advance so that the for help to arrive. It may not be edly with the sharp end well off the proper treatment can be planned possible to do this so the next ground. Many victims of mambas before you get there. option is to carry the victim and have been bitten on the head and the last, have the victim walk slowly torso which makes first aid much More than 95% of snake to transport or help. more difficult. bites are on a limb. Keep the Do not use ice or a I understand that in Oz, a bitten limb immobilised, use a popular outback pastime is to tourniquet, these can both splint. grab a snake by the tail, swing it make matters worse, and around your head and then crack Use of a compression bandage is especially don’t start slashing it like a whip, which tears off the controversial, but CSL, the company about the bite with a blade. head, bonzer blokes or what? An that manufactures antivenins in Ozzie friend thinks so but says she Australia where snake bite treat- Cutting the bite doesn’t help at wouldn’t like to marry one of them. ment is perhaps the most advanced all and unless you happen to be in the world, recommends wrapping a surgeon you may sever major The possibility of snakebite has the limb in a firm (about as tight blood vessels, tendons and nerves. been greatly exaggerated by films, as a blood pressure cuff) but not In any case venom is transported and folklore. strangulation tight bandage for the primarily through lymph vessels. whole length of the limb if you can organise it. Several crepe band- Black mambas are often large and ages may be necessary. If possible aggressive and always fast. Puff adder Julius Rückert http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/
  23. 23. Snakebite First Aid Summary 24
  24. 24. Crocodiles they are mostly found in game actually hunting you down I can’t Although messing with crocodiles is reserves especially Kruger Park, say––although I can guess. Under- apparently another Ozzie pastime, and in KwaZulu-Natal. In Botswana water, their eyeballs are protected I would recommend you don’t take there are good numbers in the by a nictitating membrane so they any chances with these animals. Okavango and in Namibia and don’t see well, although they are They are ancestors of birds and Angola, in the Cunene system. In very sensitive to vibrations. have excellent eyesight. I don’t Zimbabwe and Zambia they are still know of any extensive work on widely distributed, especially in the Above water, crocs see very their visual acuity but since they Zambezi and Luangwa rivers, and well, which is why they keep are predators and ancestors of in Lake Kariba. surfacing to check out where birds their vision might be as good as that of birds of prey. They have Nile crocs can reach six metres you are sitting on the bank been refining their hunting tech- and weigh 1,000 kilogrammes but enjoying your sundowner. niques for 200 million years or so animals over three metres have and have got so good at it, that become uncommon. They take their prey in the water or whilst we are all working on self- from right on the water’s edge and improvement, they don’t need to In spite of their relative rarity can cover the last few metres faster bother and have hardly changed for than you can react if you’ve been crocs can turn up in almost 100 million years. Tune in to that, surprised, especially if you’re on any warm water body, so 100 million years ago your ances- your third or fourth GT. tor was just a rat-sized mammal assume that all lakes, struggling to avoid becoming a dams and rivers are home to Some traditional magico-medicinal cocktail snack for a crocodile––and crocodiles, unless your guide plants such as white thorn (Acacia crocodiles had already achieved polyacantha) are believed to keep can give you good reasons perfection, and that with a brain of crocodiles away from bathing and why not. only the size and shape of a good watering points but I would suggest Havana cigar. that you don’t place too much faith In particular, after floods they can in them. turn up in places where they have Over the last century or so they not previously been recorded–– have taken a hammering from Although crocs are designed to such as lodge swimming pools. hunters shooting them for the belly take their prey in the water and not leather and taking revenge for the on land, a good guideline might be If you’re fishing or enjoying an fate of their canapé ancestors. A to keep out of the water and three evening gin and tonic on a river long time to hold a grudge. In metres from the water’s edge. In a bank, you will sometimes see one recent years crocodiles have canoe, don’t take chances. There slither off a bank opposite and become rare over much of Africa. is at least one incidence of some- submerge, reappearing a little one being taken from a canoe by a while later headed in your direction. There are very few in Swaziland crocodile––unusual to be sure but it Whether it’s just curiosity or if it’s and Mozambique. In South Africa has happened.
  25. 25. Most attacks on people take Your friends could help However we are talking about small place during high summer so though. They can poke crocs here, let’s say up to 80 or 90 kilos and two metres long. that’s when you need to be pointed sticks into the croc. especially vigilant. particularly its eyes; or beat A six metre croc. can pull a its nose––better still empty a The winter months are too cold in fully grown buffalo into the handgun into it. general for crocs to be very active water. and so if you’re planning a canoe Handguns, especially .357 trip on the Zambezi you might want If you think a pointed stick is going Magnums and bigger are much to consider that time of the year. to help you in that scenario –– well more effective than pointed sticks. Crocs are plentiful in estuaries such dream on. Still, according to Pliny We know several people who have as the St. Lucia estuary in South the Elder, crocodiles always weep survived as a result; and inciden- Africa, where from time to time they after eating someone, so you know tally all of them were taken whilst eat anglers. After floods you may they will feel bad about having wading, not from the bank. even see them in the surf, which eaten you. should suggest to you that you do your swimming and surfing far from the estuary mouth. If you do get grabbed, try to poke your fingers in its eyes (although to be honest you’re likely to be too shocked and fighting for breath to know what’s happening).
  26. 26. MPUMALANGA BIODIVERSITY C O N S E R V AT I O N P L A N H A N D B O O K Tony A. Ferrar and Mervyn C. Lötter
  27. 27. C H A P T E R 6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . M P U M A L A N G A’ S E C O S Y S T E M S An ecosystem is a dynamic complex of plant, animal and micro-organism communities and their non-living environment, interacting as a functional unit (NEMA). Ecosystems operate at various scales; from a single wetland to an entire region such as a range of mountains. Groups of ecosystems with common characteristics at a landscape scale are called biomes. This chapter briefly describes Mpumalanga’s main ecosystems, with some notes on their functioning, diversity and ecological status. 6.1 TERRESTRIAL ECOSYSTEMS THE BIOMES Mpumalanga is a warm summer-rainfall province, containing three of South Africa’s nine biomes: grassland (highveld and escarpment hills), savanna (escarpment foothills and lowveld) and forest (south and east facing escarpment valleys). Descriptions of these biomes are useful in understanding the biodiversity and ecological characteristics of the Province (Table 6.1). A map of the biomes is included in Figure 6.1. 9
  28. 28. MPUMALANGA BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION PLAN HANDBOOK TABLE 6.1 Extent of Mpumalanga’s three biomes. BIOME TOTAL SIZE (km2) % OF REMAINING %TRANSFORMED MPUMALANGA NATURAL VEGETATION (km2) Grassland 531 61% 298 44% Savanna 338 39% 255 25% Greenshank Forest 40 0.5% 39 1% Tringa nebularia Total 874 100% 558 36% Most species are TRANSFORMATION completely dependent on Transformation refers to the removal or radical disturbance of natural vegetation, for a narrow range of example by crop agriculture, plantation forestry, mining or urban development. Transformation mostly results in: a serious and permanent loss of biodiversity, fragmentation environmental of ecosystems, and leads to the failure of ecological processes. Remnants of biodiversity may survive in transformed landscapes. conditions and the food and shelter offered by The MBCP transformation layer was created by merging the 1995 and 2000 National Land Cover maps. These maps were created from satellite images that had been classified (by the those conditions. Even CSIR and ARC) into various land-use types, using remote sensing techniques. The MBCP small changes can have transformation layer is the best available representation of lost natural habitat based on composite, six-year-old data. The composite layer was cross-checked against a false-colour lasting and devastating satellite image taken in 2000, allowing mis-classified areas to be corrected. effects on whole GRASSLAND populations. Birds like Grassland defines itself: landscapes dominated by grass. Although grasses are the most visible plants, grasslands have a higher diversity of other herbaceous species, especially those with the migrant greenshank below-ground storage organs such as bulbs or tubers. These plants produce many of our are not rare but they are spectacular wild flowers and contribute to biodiversity that is second only to the Cape Fynbos in species richness. Grassland species are particularly well adapted to being defoliated, restricted to feeding in whether by grazing, fire or frost. Repeated defoliation, within reason, does no real harm to such plants nor does it reduce productivity. water between about 40mm and 120mm deep. African grasslands are particularly old, stable and resilient ecosystems. Most plants are perennials and surprisingly long lived, with very few annual species, which are the pioneer plants needed to repair disturbance. This makes our grasslands vulnerable to destruction by cultivation; once ploughed they are invaded by weedy pioneer plants that are mostly alien. Although many grassland plants do produce seed, very little germinates, most being used as vital food for their rich rodent and insect fauna. Mpumalanga’s grasslands are mainly found in the highveld above 1000m. These are cool, dry open landscapes, with rainfall of over 500mm/yr. Frost, hail storms and lightning strikes M P U M A L A N G A are common. It is the natural occurrence of fire and these other defoliating events that favour Biodiversity grassland plants over woody species and help maintain the open treeless character of grass- lands. Grasslands have shallow rooted vegetation with a growing season limited to about six months of the year. The non-growing seasons are characterised by cool and dry conditions, during which time most foliage is removed or killed by frost, and dies back to ground level. 10 CONSERVATION PLAN HANDBOOK
  29. 29. CHAPTER 6 - MPUMALANGA’S ECOSYSTEMS Large parts of our grasslands occur on deep fertile soils of will not pick them up and special skills are required to locate high agricultural value. Much of this landscape has already and identify them reliably. Highest biodiversity is found in been converted to crops, timber or intensive animal produc- rocky grassland habitats and on sandy soils. Clay soils generally tion. The unproductive winter and spring seasons in have the lowest biodiversity in grasslands. grassland require agricultural strategies for livestock and culti- SAVANNA vation that bridge this gap in economic productivity. Crop Savanna is the name for the typically African mixture of rotation, cultivated pastures and fallow intervals as well as trees, shrubs and grass, also referred to as the bushveld, and supplementary feeding of livestock, including the use of crop at lower altitudes, the lowveld. It varies from tall dense residues, are all part of good farming practice in these woodland in the warmest, wettest areas, through open regions. woodland to dense thicket. It includes wooded, shrubby hill slopes, and grassy plains with scattered trees or bush-clumps. Grasslands originally covered 61% of Mpumalanga, but 44% Diversity in savanna is provided by variation in soil-type and of this has been transformed by agriculture and other topography; koppies, river lines and anthills (termitaria) development. This substantial and irreversible reduction of provide localised changes in soil moisture and nutrients the biome is due mainly to cultivation, especially industrial- which create different habitats for plants and animals. scale agriculture and timber growing. These land uses destroy biodiversity but extensive livestock grazing can be Savanna used to cover 39% of Mpumalanga, but 25% of the reasonably biodiversity-friendly, provided good management original area of savanna has been transformed. Savannas are and safe stocking rates are applied. important for livestock, especially cattle and more recently the wildlife and tourism industry. Broad-leaved and woody The palatability of grass, its value as food for livestock, plants provide a valuable food source for browsers like kudu ECOSYSTEMS increases with decreasing rainfall, which is also correlated and giraffe. Grazing quality varies with rainfall: as rainfall with altitude. In grazing terms, this corresponds to sourveld increases, the nutritional value of grass decreases although in the moist highveld and sweet-veld in the dryer lowveld. there’s more growth; in low rainfall areas there is less grass This grass palatability gradient extends from grassland into but it is more nutritious. savannas. Although sweetveld grasses produce less biomass than sourveld grasses, they have higher food value and lower Rain is frequently delivered in thunder-storm events with a fibre. This means the plant nutrients are more available in high proportion of surface runoff. This creates flash flooding lower rainfall areas due to less leaching of the soil by high and vulnerability to soil erosion. The amount of rain that rainfall. The 650mm rainfall isoline approximately separates remains available to plants is reduced by the long hot dry- these two livestock zones. seasons, creating a strong water-deficit where evaporation far exceeds rainfall. This is an important limitation for production Fire is a characteristic feature of grassland (and savannas) and land uses for agriculture and livestock. Only the most fertile is a necessary component of good land management. deeper soils are used for cultivation. Bush encroachment or Grassland plants depend on fire, they re-sprout annually ‘induced thicket’ can result from over-grazing by livestock. from their root-stocks. Without frequent fire, grasslands Bush encroachment reduces carrying capacity and is difficult eventually become invaded with woody species and some to reverse, reducing the value of the land for livestock. herbaceous plants die. Regular burning to complement good grazing management helps to prevent the increase of species Savannas are hotter than grasslands and are deciduous, i.e. unpalatable to livestock, including woody species that form most plants loose their leaves or die back in the dry season bush encroachment. Timber growing is mainly restricted to to conserve water. The woody plants are deep rooted, grasslands but its impact is not limited to the plantation accessing moisture not available to grasses and herbs. The “footprint”. It significantly reduces surface and underground winter and spring seasons (May – October) are dry and have water and causes the spread of some of the most damaging high water-stress for plants. This increases the likelihood of alien species. These effects, along with flammability of its bushfires. Savannas are adapted to bushfires; grass and tree species and the fire protection measures required, also woody plants survive them well, so long as they are not too M P U M A L A N G A substantially changes the fire regime in grasslands. frequent or too fierce. A good wet season means lots of grass Biodiversity which in turn provides more fuel to burn and raises the risk The large number of rare and endangered species in of damaging wildfires late in the dry season. grasslands, are a particular problem for environmental impact assessment. They are mostly small, very localised and visible for only a few weeks in the year when they flower. Most surveys CONSERVATION PLAN HANDBOOK 11
  30. 30. MPUMALANGA BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION PLAN HANDBOOK FOREST The term ‘forest’ is used only for indigenous natural forests. In this sense commercial timber plantations are not forests. Indigenous evergreen trees that form a closed canopy are defined as forests. This year-round cover provides so much shade and moisture-conserving leaf litter, it limits the growth of ground-layer plants like grass. Forests have little to offer to livestock and are located mostly on steep slopes with sensitive soils not suited to cultivation. Forests are normally frost-free. Their dense vegetation and shade allow higher humidity and lower temperatures than surrounding areas. This means forest patches do not normally burn Nile Crocodile in bush-fires except around the perimeter. Very hot fires can shrink forests by continually Crocodylus niloticus eroding their edges. The vulnerability of the forest edge to fire is considerably increased by the presence of alien plants such as wattle, which increases the penetration of fire into forests. Crocodiles were once found in almost all warm In Mpumalanga, forests occur in small scattered patches, mostly in river valleys in the escarp- ment region. They require high rainfall (over 725mm/yr) boosted through the dry season by waters in Africa. These groundwater from associated streams and added precipitation in the form of mist. Their ancient reptiles extend scattered distribution and small patch size means they have rich biodiversity. This is dependent on the connectedness of patches, achieved through riverine linkages and access back in time even before by specialised forest fauna such as birds and monkeys. Forest patches are vulnerable to many impacts due to their high edge-to-area ratio. the last of the dinosaurs and have hardly changed Forests have significant cultural values as sources of traditional medicines and spiritual inspiration. Commercial harvesting of valuable plants and medicinal species, and the in their bodily form over need for structural timber, are the main pressures on forest biodiversity. From a scenic and wilderness point of view forests are very popular with visitors. Their location and interplay the last 100 million years. with rivers and mountains provides the backdrop to much of Mpumalanga’s most popular Persecution, hunting for scenic attractions. Hiking trails are strung with forest patches like beads on a necklace, running through the escarpment region. Indigenous forests protect water sources rather than their hides and a dry them out, as is the case with timber plantations of pine and gum trees. dwindling habitat as a Within biomes there are many ecosystems that can be defined at different scales. A useful result of drainage and way of classifying biodiversity within biomes is to use vegetation types as surrogates for ecosystems. Vegetation types work well for terrestrial ecosystems but do not effectively cover other human intervention the important aquatic or freshwater systems. has led to a great decline in their numbers. In South Africa they are now virtually restricted to the larger protected areas. M P U M A L A N G A Biodiversity 12 CONSERVATION PLAN HANDBOOK
  31. 31. CHAPTER 6 - MPUMALANGA’S ECOSYSTEMS ECOSYSTEMS FIGURE 6.1: Distribution of three biomes and 68 vegetation types in Mpumalanga. Space precludes the inclusion of a key for the main map, see the MBCP CD Rom for details. 13
  32. 32. MPUMALANGA BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION PLAN HANDBOOK 6.2 VEGETATION TYPES Vegetation types provide a good representation of terrestrial biodiversity because most animals, birds, insects and other organisms are associated with particular vegetation types (Rouget et al. 2004). In 2005 SANBI produced an extensively revised vegetation map for South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland (Mucina et al. 2005), with 441 vegetation types. Each vegetation type in the South African vegetation map has a biodiversity target set by the National Spatial Biodiversity Assessment. This vegetation map, with minor refinements, was used to define 68 vegetation types for Mpumalanga, shown in Figure 6.1. Red-backed toad Bufo carens With vegetation types defined and mapped, it is possible to assess their ecosystem status. Ecosystem status reflects the ecosystem’s ability to function naturally, at a landscape scale and in the long term. The single biggest cause of loss of biodiversity in South Africa is the Amphibians––frogs and loss and degradation of natural habitat. As the natural habitat in an ecosystem is reduced and degraded, its ability to persist is compromised. The degradation process is characterised toads––comprise about by: loss of ability to deliver ecosystem services; loss of biodiversity, including local species 130 species in South extinctions; and irreversible damage to ecological processes. All these combine, eventually leading to ecological collapse (Rouget et al. 2004). Africa. Many of them LISTING OF THREATENED play a crucial role in the ECOSYSTEMS IN TERMS OF THE BIODIVERSITY ACT control of a variety of The Biodiversity Act provides for listing threatened and protected ecosystems as follows: insects including 52 (1) (a) The Minister may . . . publish a national list of threatened ecosystems in need mosquitoes. of protection. (b) An MEC for environmental affairs may . . . similarly publish a provincial list of In recent years numbers threatened ecosystems. 52 (2) The following categories of threatened ecosystems may be listed in terms of of amphibians are subsection (1): believed to have ‘critically endangered’ ecosystems - that have undergone severe ecological degradation and are at an extremely high risk of irreversible transformation; decreased drastically. ‘endangered -’, or ‘vulnerable -’ ecosystems - being categories of reduced The reason for the degradation and risk, each less than the previous category above; ‘protected’ ecosystems – being ecosystems that are not threatened but decline is uncertain but it nevertheless are worthy of special protection. is believed to be largely a NOTE: DEAT and SANBI are in the process of developing criteria for identifying and listing result of climate change threatened and protected ecosystems. Systematic biodiversity plans such as the MBCP will provide an important basis for identifying these ecosystems. and increased exposure to ultra violet The purpose of defining vegetation types in terms of their ecosystem status is to identify ecosystems at risk. The ecosystem status categories are similar to those used by the IUCN for radiation. species: Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN), and Vulnerable (VU). These categories are also used in the National Spatial Biodiversity Assessment (Driver et al. 2005). A vegeta- tion type is allocated an ecosystem status based on the proportion of its original natural M P U M A L A N G A habitat that remains. The classification system and categories used here are illustrated in Figure 6.2. In the MBCP analysis the endangered category is split in two in order to identify Biodiversity those ecosystems closer to critically endangered status. 14 CONSERVATION PLAN HANDBOOK
  33. 33. CHAPTER 6 - MPUMALANGA’S ECOSYSTEMS 100% 100% of ecosystem intact LEAST THREATENED LT 80% If habitat loss continues, ecosystem functioning will be compromised % untransformed land VULNERABLE VU 60% ENDANGERED: LOW EN:L Threshold for conserving ecosystem functioning 50% ENDANGERED: HIGH EN:H A higher degree of ecosystem functioning lost - nearing CR status 19-28% Point beyond which many species may be lost CRITICALLY ENDANGERED CR 0% No natural habitat remaining; ecosystems cease to exist FIGURE 6.2: Classification of vegetation types into five ecosystem status categories based on % of natural habitat remaining. * Biodiversity target (see Appendix 2) ECOSYSTEMS FIGURE 6.3: The status of terrestrial ecosystems in Mpumalanga 15

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