Message from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife


Greetings and a very warm welcome to The Conservation Symposium 2019. We are once again very excited to be part of this coming together of such a wonderful and varied group of great minds to reflect upon current conservation challenges. This is a unique conservation symposium with a transdisciplinary approach, bringing together different practitioners from varying knowledge systems including communication, managers, lawyers, planners, policymakers and researchers alike to share new ideas, reflect on conservation work and attempt to determine solutions to the conservation challenges of our time.

Typically, the Symposium tries to take the current national and international context into consideration, and the fact that this meeting is held towards the end of the year, presents us with an opportunity to look back at some notable events that are helping to shape our world.

In August this year, the 18th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES CoP18) was held in Geneva, Switzerland. As I reflect on the outcomes of CITES CoP18 in the context of resourcing conservation efforts becoming increasingly difficult, it concerns me that there seems to be an increasing move towards no consumptive use even when the scientific evidence supports sustainable use of species. A number of decisions at the CITES CoP18 affected African range states negatively by restricting or preventing these countries’ ability to trade in species and generate much-needed revenue that could be used for conservation purposes. To mention but a few examples: the Rejection of the proposal to amend Annotation 2 pertaining to the elephant populations of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe to enable resumption of trade in registered raw ivory; Rejection of the proposal to transfer Zambia’s elephant population from Appendix I to Appendix II; Rejection of the proposal to remove the existing annotation on the Appendix II listing of Eswatini’s southern white rhino population to allow international trade in rhinos and their products, including horn and derivatives; Rejection of the proposal to transfer the southern white rhino population of Namibia from Appendix I to Appendix II; and inclusion of giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) and all subspecies in Appendix II despite the subspecies, Giraffa camelopardalis giraffa, being numerous and widespread throughout southern Africa. However, we are at least encouraged by the acceptance of the proposal to increase the export quota for black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) hunting trophies from five adult male black rhinoceros to a total number of adult male black rhinoceros not exceeding 0.5% of the total black rhinoceros population in South Africa in the year of export.

In October this year, at an IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) Leaders’ Meeting in Abu Dhabi, the IUCN issued an urgent call to scale up conservation action in response to the escalating biodiversity crisis. The Abu Dhabi Call for Global Species Conservation Action appeals to the world’s governments, international agencies and the private sector to halt species decline and prevent human-driven extinctions by 2030, and to improve the conservation status of threatened species with a view to bringing about widespread recovery by 2050. The Abu Dhabi Call has highlighted key threats that need to be tackled, which our Symposium deliberations and outcomes should aim to address. These key threats include the lack of incentives for landowners and managers to retain wild species and natural habitats; poor or abusive practices in agriculture, fisheries, and forestry; wildlife crime; emerging infectious diseases; the disruption of water flow; inadequate management of waste and discharges; invasive alien species; and increasingly, climate change and ocean acidification.

This call has been made on the cusp of 2020, a year that will see critical decisions for the future of the planet taken by policymakers. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Paris Agreement on Climate Change will be reviewed, and the Convention on Biological Diversity will adopt the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. A new UN legal binding agreement on marine biodiversity in the High Seas is under negotiation. The IUCN World Conservation Congress is expected to amplify this Call, which will then be addressed by the United Nations Heads of State Summit on Biodiversity. In the words of Dr Jane Smart, Global Director of the IUCN’s Biodiversity Conservation Group: “Decisions made in 2020 will define the future of the Planet”.

I, therefore, encourage delegates to use this Symposium to constructively discuss ideas on how to tackle these threats to biodiversity and to prepare inputs for the IUCN World Conservation Congress. I further encourage all role players to work together with the government to prepare for these critical 2020 global forums. In the context of rising levels of poverty, unemployment, inequality and lack of social services, particularly in rural areas adjacent to our protected areas, we need to come up with integrated solutions that will ensure the conservation of biodiversity for future generations while improving the plight of people, through sustainable development.

I thank you all for joining us in this important meeting and wish you well in your deliberations.


Mr Ntsikelelo Dlulane

Acting Chief Executive Officer
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife



Message from Nature Environment and Wildlife Filmmakers Congress (NEWF)


Media content producers are generally not experienced with developing scientific narratives and engagement campaigns informed by research-based communication methodology. NEWF is the only platform in Africa aimed at bringing together nature, environment and wildlife filmmakers, scientists, conservationists and broadcast media to engage, contribute and connect whilst creating a path to conservation through film by amplifying the challenges faced by the natural world and driving solutions through impactful creative science communication.

Our partnership with The Conservation Symposium is a meaningful professional development exchange, transfer of skills and knowledge sharing initiative that explores STEM in the natural world, through factual digital media communication and storytelling for conservation scientists and filmmakers alike. This partnership is a critical contributor to the enhancement of our objective of discovering and developing the next generation of nature, environment and wildlife filmmakers and storytellers in Africa.

The time is now to elevate the power of telling authentic stories by local storytellers, and to share them with the world to ensure that we, together and with a united voice, create a path to conservation through film in order restore and protect our natural resources while the window of opportunity still exists!

Mr Noel Kok

Executive Director
Nature Environment and Wildlife Filmmakers Congress (NEWF)



Message from the University of KwaZulu-Natal


The Conservation Symposium 2019 is a significant aide-mémoire for the University of KwaZulu-Natal in the context of the great partnership we have with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. The partnership is reciprocal and goes further to benefit our alumni, stakeholders and other partners. Sustainable natural ecosystem management forms a major component of our ethos as an institution of higher learning. This informs our excellent teaching and research, dedicated to our communities in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa and the world. This Symposium provides a great opportunity for our researchers to share knowledge and identify opportunities to enhance current research activities while developing questions for future research. The result will be relevant to address local, national and global challenges, including the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals. The Symposium theme and strategic objectives fit very well with our conviction about the role of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) in education. The concept and practice of IKS elucidate the value of science in a holistic way that demonstrates evidence of how mathematical modellers, engineers, biologists, philosophers, human scientists, health practitioners, business experts and lawmakers can collaborate to create new knowledge about the past, present and future. Our world is facing colossal natural challenges, largely influenced by human error – mistakes and slips leading to dangerous actions. The excellent speakers who chose to be part of this Symposium are a true indication of the kind of collaboration needed to achieve the goals of contemporary conservation practice set for this Symposium. The University of KwaZulu-Natal fully endorses the Conservation Symposium and we are proud to be in partnership with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife towards a sustainable and better future.

Professor Albert Thembinkosi Modi

Deputy Vice-Chancellor
College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science

University of KwaZulu-Natal



Message from the Endangered Wildlife Trust


The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) is committed to a holistic approach to conservation and believes that people and nature are inextricably linked. Our dedicated team of on-the-ground conservation specialists works tirelessly throughout southern and East Africa to save species and habitats, to the benefit of all people.

Working with our partners, including businesses and governments, the EWT is at the forefront of conducting applied research, supporting community conservation and livelihoods, training and building capacity, addressing human-wildlife conflict, monitoring threatened species and establishing safe spaces for wildlife range expansion, and rebuilding the connection between people and nature. The EWT also acts as a public watchdog, often taking government and industry to task for decision-making that does not meet sustainability criteria.

Everything the EWT does is underpinned by rigorous science, and we place a premium on the importance of research. As such, it is a pleasure to once again be a partner of The Conservation Symposium, a highlight on the conservation calendar each year and an opportunity for many of our staff to participate. We look forward to an event full of insightful debates and shared learnings. It is through platforms such as this, that the solutions to the very real challenges facing the natural world can be found, and we relish the opportunity to be a part of this.

Dr Yolan Friedmann

Chief Executive Officer
Endangered Wildlife Trust


Message from the Environmental Law Association of South Africa


The Environmental Law Association (ELA) of South Africa is once again honoured to partner with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, the Endangered Wildlife Trust, WildTrust, the University of KwaZulu-Natal, the University of Zululand and the ever-inspiring ‘Nature, Environment & Wildlife Filmmakers’ Congress (NEWF), to facilitate The Conservation Symposium 2019.

The ELA is a non-profit organisation with the primary objective of promoting the development, application and practice of environmental law in South Africa. Over the past three decades, and increasingly now, we have witnessed the global shift in our perception of the value of our natural environment which has created the need for environmental legislation that reflects these societal convictions and upholds, promotes and protects our Constitutional rights. The ELA provides a platform for environmental lawyers to network, share information and knowledge in the field of environmental law - which has become an increasingly important yet complex and constantly changing and advancing branch of both domestic and international law. The ELA recognises that mainstreaming communications linked to environmental matters among professionals in various fields, such as conservation and law, plays a crucial role in satisfying the environmental right provided for in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.

This year will be the ELA’s seventh consecutive year as a Partner organisation to The Conservation Symposium, which has grown from strength to strength since its inception. The Symposium provides an important forum for lawyers to engage with conservation professionals and collaborate efforts to address contemporary conservation challenges, especially insofar as the law and conservation overlap. As the only Partner from the legal sector, the ELA hopes to bring a unique component to The Conservation Symposium that aims to advance the relationship between conservation and legislation. This year, we are thoroughly excited about the diverse topics to be discussed at the Symposium which range from threatened species conservation to lead (Pb) in wildlife and the environment. The opportunities and exposure that the Symposium provides for young conservation-minded delegates are unmatched and we are proud to have been part of this successful joint initiative once again.

We wish all delegates a productive and enjoyable Symposium and we look forward to continuing our participation in this prestigious event into the future.

Adv Peter Kantor

Chair
Environmental Law Association of South Africa


Message from the University of Zululand


I would like to express sincere Appreciation to Mr. Dlulame, the Acting CEO of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife for the continued partnership of the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife with the University of Zululand. Thank you to all partners in organizing the Conservation Symposium annually. The symposium brings together international and multidisciplinary scientists to share knowledge and latest techniques in plant and animal conservation in the different fields including aquatic and terrestrial aspects. However, it is more commendable that its main aim is to benefit young scientists by inspiring and capacitating them with skills required in research through the intergenerational dialogue.

I wish all the delegates a very successful and productive symposium, and hope that the interactions of delegates will give more insight on how to preserve the existing plant and animal biodiversity.

Wishing you all a great Conservation Symposium!

Professor Nokuthula Kunene

Dean
Faculty of Science and Agriculture

University of Zululand


Monday, 04 Nov 2019
06:30 - 12:00
Impendle Nature Reserve
Impendle Wildflowers and Blue Swallows
Format : Field Trip
Speakers
Steve McKean, Conservation Outcomes NPC
Clinton Carbutt, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

The hidden gem of Impendle Nature Reserve with the Critically Endangered blue swallow plus wildflowers, grasslands and forests. Botanical expert Dr Clinton Carbutt and Steve McKean will introduce you to special Midlands wildflowers, and discussions on conservation and monitoring issues relating to South Africa's most threatened bird, the blue swallow.

07:30 - 08:30
Main Deck, Foyer Area & Lower Deck
Registration for delegates on tours

Registration for those delegates attending the tours that depart at 08h30 on Monday 4 November 2019.

08:30 - 12:00
Mandela Capture Site
Mandela Capture Site, Sculpture and Visitor Centre
Format : Field Trip

Visit to the recently-upgraded Mandela Capture Site and museum with a local guide to explain the significance and context of the site where, on 5 August 1962, police waved down a car driven by Nelson Mandela, posing as a chauffeur. His arrest was the catalyst for a series of trials, culminating in the Rivonia Treason Trial that would ultimately see him spend 27 years in prison. Today this site is marked by an impressive sculpture in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.

08:30 - 13:00
Dining Room
Introduction to Statistics for R
Format : Workshop
Speakers
Victoria Goodall, VLG Statistical Services
08:30 - 13:30
African Bird of Prey Sanctuary
African Bird of Prey Sanctuary and Bearded Vulture Breeding Programme
Format : Field Trip
Speakers
Nontethelelo Mchunu, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Bill Howells, African Bird Of Prey Sanctuary
Shannon Hoffman, African Bird Of Prey Sanctuary
Ben Hoffman, African Bird Of Prey Sanctuary

Witness the majesty of African raptors at close quarters and see adult and juvenile bearded vultures, part of the recently established Bearded Vulture Breeding Programme, at the African Birds of Prey Sanctuary. Detailed discussions on the role and progress of the Bearded Vulture Breeding Programme as a contribution to the Bearded Vulture Recovery Programme will be led by Shannon Hoffman, Bearded Vulture Breeding Programme Manager and owner of the African Birds of Prey Sanctuary.

12:00 - 13:30
Main Deck, Foyer Area & Lower Deck
Registration

Delegates should take note that the Opening of the Symposium will begin at 14h00. Registration opens at 12h00, and lunch will be served from 12h30.

12:30 - 13:45
Marquee
Lunch
14:00 - 15:30
Rholands Hall
Session 1: Plenary: Opening of the Conservation Symposium 2019
Format : Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Speakers
Nomusa Dube-Ncube, KwaZulu-Natal Department Economic Development, Tourism & Environmental Affairs
Duncan Hay, Institute Of Natural Resources
Michael Watkeys, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Moderators
Joe Phadima, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

Welcome and opening
14:05 - 14:15
Presented by :
Nomusa Dube-Ncube, KwaZulu-Natal Department Economic Development, Tourism & Environmental Affairs
INVITED KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Nature for water: Ecological infrastructure's contribution to water security
14:15 - 14:45
Presented by :
Duncan Hay, Institute Of Natural Resources

Improving water security in southern Africa is a social, economic and ecological imperative. On the demand side our efforts to improve water conservation - fix the leaks, reduce use, get the pricing right, collect the revenue, and engender a culture that values water resources, is enjoying limited success. On the supply side we have used up many of our hard infrastructure options - transfer systems crisscross the country, and dams are becoming prohibitively expensive and increasingly inefficient. So, we need to look at other options. An obvious one is exploring what contribution intact natural systems can make to improve our water security. Progress is being made in this regard with the Department of Environmental Affairs Natural Resource Management programmes (Working for Water and Working for Wetlands) and linked research being obvious examples. In addition, an ecological infrastructure investment plan has been established for the uMngeni River Catchment. This is being refined through the Ecological Infrastructure for Water Security Programme. However, in order to fully realise improved water security through investment in ecological infrastructure, we have to fundamentally change the way we relate to water - how we consider scarcity, use, value and price, equity and opportunity. The presentation will focus on these aspects and how they might contribute to or detract from investing in natural systems.

INVITED KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Climate change: A necessity for evolution and a driving force in civilisation
14:45 - 15:15
Presented by :
Michael Watkeys, University Of KwaZulu-Natal

Climate change is probably one of the most hotly contested topics on this planet today to the extent that, in certain sectors, protagonists simply refuse to have a discussion. Figures showing the global temperature for the decade 2006 – 2015 was 0.86°C above the pre-industrial baseline and that 2018 was the fourth hottest year on record are either ascribed to natural processes by one side or to industrialisation by the other. In this talk, the changes in climate will be outlined in the time before records were kept and industrialisation took place. The methods by which past climates are established, the cause of the changes and the consequences for evolution will be discussed. Climate change has taken place throughout the 4.5 billion year history of this planet, with ice ages occurring infrequently at intervals of every approximately 300 million years and usually lasting for a few million years. Therefore having ice at the poles is not the normal situation in the geological record which rather contrasts with our current perception which has resulted from us having evolved over the past 2.5 million years during the Quaternary Ice Age. In our more recent history, after the Last Glacial Maximum about 25,000 years ago, there was a dramatic warming and cooling again between 14,700 BC and 12,700 BC before warming again during the transition from the Mesolithic to the Neolithic. By the Bronze Age Warm Period or Holocene Climatic Optimum (6,000 – 2,500 BC) temperatures were 2 – 3°C higher than today. Further historical warm periods include the Roman Warm Period (250 BC – AD 400) and the Medieval Warm Period (AD 950 – 1250). This was followed by the Little Ice Age (AD 1300 – 1850), the latter part of which coincided with the early stage of the Industrial Age. Currently, we are attempting to maintain climate and sea-level change within certain parameters for agricultural and socio-economic reasons that have come about from the process of civilisation and industrialisation.

15:30 - 16:00
Main Deck, Foyer Area & Lower Deck
Afternoon Tea
16:00 - 17:30
Rholands Hall
Session 2: Conserving in the Face of Global Change
Format : Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Speakers
Stuart Demmer, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Erica Nielsen, Stellenbosch University
Andy Blackmore, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
David Ehlers Smith, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
James Ayuk, University Of Fort Hare
Moderators
Clinton Carbutt, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Back to the future: Using climatic stability to predict resilience hotspots for conservation
16:00 - 16:15
Presented by :
Erica Nielsen, Stellenbosch University
Co-authors :
Sophie Von Der Heyden, Stellenbosch University
Romina Henriques, Technical University Of Denmark
Maria Beger, University Of Leeds

Global climate change is one of the greatest threats to biodiversity, and one of the most pressing challenges within conservation science and management. Thus, one of the emerging objectives within conservation practice is to identify and conserve areas of heightened resilience and/or evolutionary potential. Previous studies assessing the links between past climatic oscillations and contemporary intraspecific genetic variation have found that climatic refugia (i.e. areas that remained habitable through climatic oscillations) are likely to be areas of increased genetic diversity. However, the influence of climatic refugia on genetic diversity is still largely unexplored within the marine environment, especially within a multi-species context. Here, we explore how paleo-climatic changes since the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM; 21 kya) have influenced the genetic diversity of three southern African rocky shore species, namely the Cape urchin (Parechinus angulosus), granular limpet (Scutellastra granularis), and shore crab (Cyclgrapsus punctatus). We also compare areas of past and future climatic stability to identify resilience hotspots for future conservation planning efforts. To identify climatic refugia we conducted species distribution models (SDMs) to the LGM at 1,000 year intervals, using snapshot simulations with mean sea surface temperature and air temperature as predictor variables. We then tested the relationship between climatic stability and sea level variability with patterns of genetic and genomic diversity using generalised linear models. Finally, we projected species distributions into the years 2050 and 2090 to test for multi-species climatic refugia consistent with the hindcasted distributions. The results show complex relationships between climatic variability, species, and molecular markers, but do suggest climatic refugia shared across all species and timeframes. By combining past and future environmental niche modelling and population genetic analyses, we are able to provide a baseline for both the exposure and sensitivity of rocky shore species to climate change.

Climate change impacts and protected area boundaries: A speculative analysis using African wild dogs as a case study
16:15 - 16:30
Presented by :
Andy Blackmore, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Co-authors :
Arie Trouwborst , Tilburg University

Climate change will increasingly impact species and habitat composition of protected areas - even if precise impacts are difficult to predict, especially in smaller areas. This raises questions for management authorities but also regarding wildlife that 'escape' and cause damage. The decision framework used to introduce damage-causing animals in protected areas is complex and is explored in this paper with reference to the introduction of African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) into a protected area. The behaviour of wild dogs may be particularly suitable as a surrogate to provide insights into the legal challenges that are likely to arise when other damage-causing animals start responding to climate change by venturing beyond protected area boundaries. Here, the introduction of wild dogs into South Africa's Tembe Elephant Park may be unpacked to understand the relationship between neighbouring rural communities, the tourism industry and the park's management authority. The protected area is traditionally the sole fiducial concern of the management authority, but the introduction of charismatic and potentially damage-causing wildlife includes an overlapping vested interest of the tourism industry and the neighbouring rural communities. As climate change manifests this complex relationship between the three role-players, is likely to become strained with the increased frequency of escaping carnivores - as they attempt to move out of or expand their home ranges beyond the boundaries of the protected area. It is concluded that a laissez-faire approach to climate change by protected area managers is likely to be problematic particularly with respect to relationships with neighbouring rural communities. It is concluded that (1) a greater awareness of climate change impacts by all role-players is required, including conservation agencies, the tourism industry and neighbouring rural communities; and (2) managing escaped wildlife should become a joint and contractual responsibility of these role-players.

Predicted distributions of avian specialists: A framework for conservation of endangered forests under future climates
16:30 - 16:45
Presented by :
David Ehlers Smith, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Co-authors :
Robin Colyn, BirdLife South Africa
Yvette Ehlers Smith, Scientific Committee & Presenter, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Hanneline Smit-Robinson, BirdLife South Africa
Colleen Downs, University Of KwaZulu-Natal

Forested regions are of global importance for a multitude of ecosystem functions and services, and are critical for biodiversity. Anthropogenic climate change compounds the negative effects of land-use change on forest persistence and forest-dependent biodiversity. Habitat loss and climate change have synergistic, additive effects and drive species' extinctions in similar ways. Connectivity is key in conservation planning as a means of mitigating climate-change effects and facilitating species' abilities to disperse throughout remnant habitat and track their climate niches. We hypothesised that three forest-specialised, habitat-specific and range-restricted bird species would act as efficient surrogates for promoting the connectivity and conservation of each of South Africa's three threatened forest classes. We created ensemble models of species' distributions and incorporated their core home- and breeding-range patches into a hybrid model of least-cost pathways and, using ecological circuit theory mapping, assessed its success in promoting connectivity for the forest class of each species. We predicted the likelihood of niche persistence for each species under future climate-change scenarios and their ability to track their climate niche. Projected habitat loss under climate-change scenarios impacted core-habitat patch distribution, size, and corridor connectivity, exacerbating habitat fragmentation, increasing resistance along least-cost paths and the severity of pinch-points and barriers along dispersal corridors. Forest systems and associated surrogate species are projected to experience the highest levels of habitat loss/contraction at mid- to high elevations. Climate-change resilience across ecosystems, and the persistence of species therein, was dependent on connectivity which facilitated a species' ability to track specific climate niches. Our forest conservation network model promoted the persistence of our surrogate species, the ecological niche they represent and the ecosystem that provisions them, thus providing a replicable framework to aid conservation planning for future climate change.

Predicting habitat suitability for four indigenous Restionaceae at local spatial scales and the implications of possible changes in soil hydrology caused by climate change
16:45 - 17:00
Presented by :
James Ayuk, University Of Fort Hare
Co-authors :
Lincoln Raitt, University Of The Western Cape

This research investigated the water regime of three Restionaceae species and the implications of possible changes in soil hydrology caused by climate change in communities within the Cape Floristic Region. Vegetation survey counts for the presence of these species along with measurements of soil water table depth and moisture content generated from eight small-scale plots (50 x 50 m) were used to investigate possible hydrological niches. A comparative analysis of the effects of two extreme Representative Concentration emission Pathways (RCP2.6 and RCP8.5) on plant water regimes was carried out. The IPCC AR5 report describes the RCP8.5 emissions scenario as the likely 'business as usual' scenario where emissions continue to rise through the 21st century while the RCP2.6 scenario assumes that emissions peak between 2010 and 2020 and substantially subside thereafter. MaxEnt modelled species hydrological niches at very fine spatial scale. The visual assessment showed a match between the actual (observed) sampled occurrences and the predicted (modelled) locations. This made the outputs valid for the interpretation of community structure and deemed fit for predicting the potential future species distributions based on novel environmental conditions introduced by climate change. Staberoha distachyos might remain stable at altitudinal conditions but is predicted to disappear at most places where they presently occur. Additionally, the species population is seen to expand under RCP 2.6 scenario conditions but, on the other hand, shrink under RCP 8.5 scenario conditions. A similar trend is expected for Elegia filacea, Hypodiscus aristatus and Staberoha cernua. Hydrological factors are considered ecologically important as they account for the differences in the species responses. Species distribution has mainly been underpinned by a moisture gradient rather than by the overarching climatic variations seen in larger settings. Finally, the results derived from different possible climatic scenarios may guide future decisions on conservation. While the direction to which species change would definitely take remains uncertain in the future, these results are a firm pointer towards the most likely future paths.

Species losses following persistent fertilisation increase grassland stability in response to temperature variation
17:00 - 17:15
Presented by :
Stuart Demmer, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Co-authors :
Michelle Tedder, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Kevin Kirkman, University Of KwaZulu-Natal

Future climatic projections suggest greater and more variable temperature extremes. Grassland stability responses to climatic stress or anthropogenic eutrophication (both important global change drivers) are often influenced by the grassland's biodiversity. However, grassland responses to interacting global change drivers remain relatively unknown. Given that temperature can influence soil nutrient uptake by plants, understanding how grasslands respond to temperature stress together with changes in soil nutrient status may provide important insight for grassland management. This study explored how the diversity and mean, variability and stability of unfertilised and fertilised mesic grassland productivity responded to temperature stress at three-year scales. We modeled rain use efficiencies (RUE, an absolute measure of grassland productivity) collected from the long term Veld Fertiliser Trial (Ukulinga Research Farm, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa) using linear mixed modelling techniques to understand how RUE stability and its constituents (mean and standard deviation (SD)) changed across mean maximum temperature and maximum temperature SD. Fertilisation rapidly reduced species richness and diversity resulting in homogenous plots dominated primarily by grass species. Productivity analyses revealed that the SD rather than the mean of maximum temperature affected RUE. Mean RUE and RUE SD both increased with maximum temperature SD, however, RUE SD increased more rapidly in unfertilised grasslands than fertilised grasslands. Unfertilised grasslands, therefore, became destabilised during periods of high maximum temperature variability. Increased climatic variability thus appears to have positive impacts on fertilised mesic grasslands, however, we caution that the homogenous nature of these plots' diversity may impact their overall resilience to other disturbances.

16:00 - 17:30
Chapel
Session 3: Biodiversity Stewardship and Securing Critical Biodiversity Areas
Format : Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Speakers
Willeen Olivier, Department Of Environmental Affairs
Emily Taylor, Endangered Wildlife Trust
Francois Retief, North-West University
Nolwazi Ndimande, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Rethabile Motloung, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Moderators
Craig Mulqueeny, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
The SADC M&E Framework for TFCAs and how it relates to the METT System for Protected Areas in South Africa
16:00 - 16:15
Presented by :
Willeen Olivier, Department Of Environmental Affairs

The establishment of transfrontier conservation areas (TFCAs) is one of the core responsibilities of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Natural Resource Management projects. In order to monitor the effective implementation of this programme, a Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Framework has been developed for TFCAs, with funding from GIZ. This was finalised and accepted by the partner countries in 2018, and as SADC partners, the management authorities of these TFCAs need to implement this M&E Framework. The TFCA M&E Framework responds to the need of having an objective and standardised system that can be used to systematically collect and analyse information on the SADC TFCAs that supports management accountability, effectiveness and efficiency with respect to cross-border coordination. It serves the regional level objective of establishing a reporting mechanism for the SADC TFCA programme and it does not, in any way, substitute any management level system for monitoring and evaluation. It, therefore, should not replace but complement the present Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool (METT) system being implemented in South Africa.

The little province that could
16:15 - 16:30
Presented by :
Emily Taylor, Endangered Wildlife Trust
Co-authors :
Noza Mathebula, Noza.mathebula@gauteng.gov.za

The Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD) is committed to protecting the biodiversity and habitats remaining in Gauteng, and in August 2015, it established a partnership with the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) to launch the Gauteng Biodiversity Stewardship Programme (GBSP), funded by the WWF Nedbank Green Trust. The GBSP target was to publish intent to declare notices for 5,000 hectares of natural habitat as protected areas, under the National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act No 57 of 2003 (NEM: PAA), using biodiversity stewardship (BDS) as a mechanism to do so. The programme was also intended to ensure that the stewardship processes were entrenched within the department, and that GDARD was capacitated to continue to implement stewardship in the long-term. The programme managed to meet double its area target through the publication of intent to declare notices for three sites, with a combined hectarage of 10,634. Through extensive consultation with GDARD's Scientific Services (SS) and Corporate Legal Services (CLS), the GBSP has also ensured that stewardship processes are successfully streamlined and institutionalised within GDARD, and that all involved are capacitated and motivated to implement BDS. The team attributes its success to the strong GDARD- EWT partnership, transparent and respectful engagement with landowners, maintaining a constant presence in the landscape, and following through on every promise and commitment made. To maintain the momentum achieved, the GDARD and the EWT will form a strategic partnership to facilitate the EWT's continued support for BDS implementation in Gauteng, and collaboration on other projects. The partners will convene a multi-stakeholder GBSP Working Group to comprehensively address the challenges and key lessons learned over the course of the programme, which will facilitate continued capacity development within the GDARD, and coordinate efforts for effective post declaration support to stewardship sites.

A critical reflection on the potential contribution of private nature reserves to the conservation estate in South Africa through the application of theory of change
16:30 - 16:45
Presented by :
Francois Retief, North-West University
Co-authors :
Reece Alberts, North-West University

It is well recognised that protected area expansion targets in South Africa will not be met through traditional protected area models reliant solely on land purchase and rezoning by government. Rather, expansion of the conservation estate will also rely heavily on the contribution of conservation on private land and/or land held in trust by local communities. In this regard, a key existing policy instrument is the establishment of private nature reserves. However, private nature reserves present a particular policy design challenge around the harmonisation of incentive-driven and regulatory / command and control-driven requirements. In this paper, we apply a theory of change methodology to critically consider the challenges and opportunities for private nature reserves to contribute to the conservation estate in South Africa. The theory of change methodology is commonly used in policy evaluation to identify key assumptions and risks underpinning the internal logic of a particular policy intervention and/or mechanism. We, therefore, provide a critical evaluation of the regulatory context for private nature reserves (i.e. national and provincial legislation), most recently supplemented through the publication of norms and standards in 2017. The results suggest that incentives promoting the expansion of private nature reserves need to be strengthened (such as income tax benefits), while the expanded regulatory framework risks dis-incentivising landowners to pursue private nature reserves on their land. We conclude by making a recommendation to advance and strengthen the potential of private nature reserves to contribute to the conservation estate in South Africa.

Biodiversity offsets in South Africa: Evaluating an evolving regulatory framework and implications for best practice
16:45 - 17:00
Presented by :
Nolwazi Ndimande, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Co-authors :
Dayle Trotter Boardman , University Of KwaZulu Natal
Dave Cox, Institute Of Natural Resources

The concept of biodiversity offsets emerged as a means of compensating for biodiversity damage that results from development. The tool is integrated within the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process where biodiversity offsets represent the 'last resort' after all the options of the mitigation hierarchy have been exhausted. The tool promises the achievement of sustainable development outcomes. However, it seems that there is uncertainty about when offsets should be formally introduced into the EIA process because considering them as the last option complicates the practicality of considering them within the tight EIA regulatory framework. Drawing on documentary analysis and semi-structured interview discussions with practitioners, government officials and other key stakeholders, this study found that there is an urgent need to finalise and publish the National Offset Guidelines to inform consistent implementation and establish legally binding requirements to carry out offsets in adherence to the mitigation hierarchy. It was also found that, in South Africa, there is a reluctance to implement biodiversity offsets due to lack of capacity, skills and knowledge on the tool itself. Securing land for an offset has also contributed to the poor, or lack thereof, implementation of biodiversity offsets. It was noted that a standalone policy for biodiversity offsets, instead of the overarching guidelines, has the potential of improving design and implementation of biodiversity offsets, and would contribute to achieving the set objective of compensating for the residual impacts of development. Capacity building for practitioners, developers and the decisionmakers is a necessity to improve the success of the tool in the country. Also, as a recommendation to assist with decision making and ensure environmental compensation, biodiversity banking activities were identified as a solution worth investigating further.

Biogeography and conservation of the narrow range endemic animal species of South Africa
17:00 - 17:15
Presented by :
Rethabile Motloung, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Co-authors :
Michelle Hamer, SANBI
Mark Robertson, University Of Pretoria

South Africa is a megadiverse country with three declared biodiversity hotspots, the Succulent Karoo, Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany and Cape Floristic Region. This biodiversity is, however, under severe threat associated with habitat loss, alien species invasion and climate change. Given the urgent need for conservation prioritisation for the South African fauna, we are carrying out an assessment of narrow range endemic species (NREs) to identify sites and species that are potentially important for conservation action. Since there is no globally accepted definition of an NRE, the global key biodiversity areas (KBAs) definition of range-restrictedness is used, i.e. terrestrial species endemic to South Africa with a naturally small geographical range of <10,000 km2. The overall study aim is to determine the biogeography and assess the conservation needs of the selected NREs in South Africa. The objectives are to determine which of the selected NREs are relicts or neoendemics and identify centres of faunal endemism for the selected groups; determine the processes and drivers of NRE in South African fauna; assess if there is a level of congruence between the known centres of floristic endemism and the centres of faunal endemism based on the selected groups, and lastly assess the levels of protection of the selected NRE species based on the current protected area network in South Africa. This study will mainly use species occurrence records from museum collections and published atlases. The selected study taxa include butterflies, millipedes, terrestrial molluscs, frogs, reptiles, dung beetles, bees, grasshoppers, and harvestmen. Maps of the NREs will be overlaid across taxa and environmental features to answer the following questions: 1) Which areas are important for NREs? 2) Are there localities that overlap across taxa? 3) What are the drivers or evolutionary history of narrow range endemism? and 4) Are the identified NREs adequately protected under the current protected area legislation? The results of this study have important implications in understanding faunal endemism in South Africa and can inform decisions about future protected area expansion, as well as in decision-making about land-use change through the Department of Environmental Affairs, Fisheries and Forestry's tool which is currently being developed.

16:00 - 17:30
Dining Room
Conservation Café (Monday)
Format : Workshop
17:30 - 19:30
Main Deck, Foyer Area & Lower Deck
Meet & Greet Networking Function
19:30 - 21:00
Rholands Hall
Monday Film Night: Eye of the Pangolin

Delegates of the Conservation Symposium 2019, are invited to join Bruce Young, who directed and produced the ground-breaking documentary Eye of the Pangolin. Filmed on location in South Africa, Ghana, Central African Republic and Gabon, this powerful documentary is the story of two men on a mission to get all four species of African pangolin on camera for the very first time. Eye of the Pangolin, The Search for the Animal on the Edge will be screened following the Meet and Greet on Monday evening.

Bruce's 2015 directorial debut film Blood Lions was an international documentary feature exposing the canned lion hunting industry in South Africa. The film received a number of awards and is part of an international campaign to end canned lion hunting. It was screened at the Symposium of Contemporary Conservation Practice in November 2015.

Tuesday, 05 Nov 2019
07:30 - 08:30
Main Deck, Foyer Area & Lower Deck
Registration
08:30 - 10:30
Rholands Hall
Session 4: Plenary: Tuesday
Format : Oral Presentations | Poster Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Speakers
Joao Vidal, University Of The Free State
Faye Brownell, Duzi-uMngeni Conservation Trust
Llewellyn Jacobs, CapeNature
Rowena Harrison, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
Lindokuhle Xolani Dlamini, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
Natasha Moore, SiVEST Environmental Consulting
Moderators
Andrew Venter, WildTrust

KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Southern African mountain ecosystems: Indicators for changes in biodiversity
08:45 - 09:15
Presented by :
Joao Vidal, University Of The Free State
Co-authors :
Ralph Clark, University Of The Free State
Sue Janse Van Rensburg, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
Pete Le Roux, University Of Pretoria
Anthony Swemmer, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
Clinton Carbutt, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

Southern hemisphere mountain ecosystems are not as well represented on the global research stage as northern hemisphere mountain ecosystems are. As a result, southern hemisphere mountain systems are often less well understood, and, therefore, often prone to assumptions for management and mitigation biased to northern hemisphere perspectives. For example, the absence of a clear treeline in these grassland-dominated systems often masks the effects of climate change compared to typical northern hemisphere systems that can monitor the upward movement of trees and shrubs and correlate this to thermal changes. Also, the natural role of fire in these semi-arid and drought-prone southern systems drives a biodiversity suite that is very different in ecology and life strategy to those in northern systems. Thus, different means of measuring and monitoring change in grass-dominated southern hemisphere mountains are necessary. We use the endemic-rich Maloti-Drakensberg mountains as a case in point to show the potential for measuring change through: (1) considering the masking effects of immediate anthropogenic change (usually a more dramatic and immediate concern in real-time), and (2) considering background subtle change. For the latter, we explore potential indicators such as biodiversity erosion, species composition shifts, C3-C4 grass community changes, woody species expansion, and colonisation by non-native species (invasive and naturalised). Challenges to these indicators being effective are the masking effects of immediate change and the gradual erosion of ecosystem resilience from long periods of unsustainable use (e.g. communal rangeland degradation since the 1800s). Given the extremely high water production value of these mountains in arid and semi-arid southern Africa, the long-term resilience of such ecosystems should be a high priority for research, policy and practice.

INVITED KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Cry me a river: The devastation (and silver lining?) of the Willowton Group spill into the Baynespruit, Pietermaritzburg
09:15 - 10:15
Presented by :
Faye Brownell, Duzi-uMngeni Conservation Trust
Mark Graham, GroundTruth
David Sweidan

On August 13, 2019, a structural failure at the Willowton Group factory in Pietermaritzburg resulted in a massive oil and caustic soda spill, which overflowed into the stormwater and sewer system. As a result, there was a severe impact on the Baynespruit, down into the Msunduzi River, and ultimately into the uMngeni River, reaching the Inanda Dam in eThekwini. In addition, the Darvill Wastewater Treatment Works also received inflow, which impacted their processes, and thus their ability to treat the city's sewage. The ecological impact down to the Inanda Dam was made very visible by the thousands of dead fish rotting in the sun. The outrage was, understandably, very loud. The unseen loss, however, is even greater, with almost no invertebrate life visible during the bioassessments that followed shortly after the spill. This does not bode well for the natural capacity of the river to assimilate pollution going forward, beyond just the clean-up phase. This presentation will unpack the status before, during, and in the two months after the spill - the status of not just the river, but of the institutional landscape - and discuss how this disaster has catalysed conversation and action that could mean a turnaround for a decades' long problem of water pollution in Pietermaritzburg.

PLENARY PRESENTATION: Status of data management for conservation
10:15 - 10:30
Presented by :
Llewellyn Jacobs, CapeNature

Modern conservation practices rely more and more on science-based information, which consequently demands data management schemes that are able to serve this purpose. South Africa has committed to achieving Aichi Target 19; which is to increase knowledge, the science base and technologies relating to biodiversity, including the application and sharing of these by 2020. Although significant strides have been made, the status quo for conservation data management leaves much to be desired. This status quo is, for instance, characterised by a lack of human and technology resources, non-standardisation, poor taxonomic integrity and data quality control. Examples of these at CapeNature are: spreadsheets populated at reserve level (only added to databases after several steps), unverifiable species identifications by field staff, lacking taxon expert quality control, outdated protocols that do not adapt to changing needs, poor integration and consolidation across multiple databases, data types and scale, and data sharing agreements that are not optimally utilised. This influences whether data can easily be shared or not, and whether biodiversity information is fit for use in decision-making. Consequently, we experience a lack of timely and accurate reporting, legal risks, cumbersome data flow requiring unnecessary capacity and resources, and fragmented management information (at the site, taxon and ecosystem levels). Improved implementation of data management, therefore, requires modernisation, integration (internal and external), and skill enhancement and transfer. The utilisation of advancing data science technologies will afford us the ability to analyse and apply techniques to larger, consolidated datasets, ultimately providing valuable information for conservation in novel ways.

Interactions between dissolved organic carbon and hydropedology
10:30 - 10:33
Presented by :
Rowena Harrison, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
Co-authors :
Johan Van Tol, University Of The Free State
Philippe Amiotte Suchet, Universit? De Bourgogne

A key component in addressing challenges in water resource management is the development of a comprehensive understanding of the complex relationships between soil properties, land use and management, and the hydrologic cycle. Despite the numerous studies conducted, there is a paucity of research in South Africa focusing on the relationship between soils, land types, and hydrology of wetlands and headwater streams. Controls on total organic carbon (TOC) losses at the catchment scale are poorly understood and yet these fluxes may have important consequences for ecosystem functions. This study focuses on the interactions between the pedological and hydrological processes and their interactions with dissolved organic carbon (DOC) within catchments. The study takes place in the Cathedral Peak experimental research catchments, specifically in Catchments 3, 6 and 9 which have different management histories. Water paths in each catchment have been mapped and wetlands have been instrumented with piezometers as well as the installation of two spectral probes at the weirs within Catchments 6 and 9. Water samples are collected from the piezometers and the weirs. These are filtered through a 0.47 µm filter for particulate organic carbon (POC) analysis and 0.2 µm filter for DOC analysis. The analysis is undertaken at the University of Bourgogne in France. The spectral probes installed in Catchments 6 and 9 take DOC, TOC, turbidity, electrical conductivity and temperature measurements every 15 minutes. Initial results indicate the waters of Catchments 6 and 9 have similar TOC concentration ranges between 0.6 and 1.0 mg/l, with DOC concentrations between 0.25 and 0.5 mg/l. These results indicate low DOC concentrations within both catchments. Testing of samples for stable isotope signals (13C) is planned in the near future. The results will be utilised to determine the contribution of the wetlands to carbon cycling and DOC export at a catchment scale.

Soil carbon dynamics of a montane fire-climax grassland, Cathedral Peak, Drakensberg, South Africa
10:33 - 10:36
Presented by :
Lindokuhle Xolani Dlamini, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
Co-authors :
Elmarie Kotze, University Of The Free State,
Gregor Feig, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
Jean Leveque, University Of Burgundy

Grasslands are the second largest biome in South Africa and fire plays an important role in grassland function and management. Approximately 60% of the national carbon (C) stock is found in grasslands, with approximately 90% of the C stock in the soil, primarily in the form of soil organic C. Studies of soil C in South Africa have predominantly been in agricultural systems and generally focus on quantifying total soil C in the topsoil horizon, with less focus on subsoil horizons or soil respiration. The role of fire and the effect of land degradation on C cycling of montane grasslands are largely overlooked, specifically their effects on soil respiration, different C fractions (stable/active) and pyrogenic organic matter. This study investigates the effect of fire, vegetation heterogeneity, and climate variability on soil C dynamics at a catchment scale in a montane fire-climax grassland at Cathedral Peak. Cathedral Peak has rich long-term historical records on climate, fire occurrence, and management history. Several experimental catchments have been operational since the 1940s; these include a fire-exclusion (woody plant dominated), a biennial burn, and post afforestation (degraded). Soil respiration is measured using a long-term LI-8100A Automated Soil Gas Flux System (continuous), and soil chamber-based manual technique (sampled monthly). Temperature and soil moisture sensitivity will be recorded and calculated. Soil core samples along a catenal gradient in all three catchments will be collected at regular intervals down to 100 cm. Soil bulk density, soil pH, soil aggregate stability, pyrogenic organic C, δ13C and δ15N isotopic signatures, soil C and N stocks, and different soil C fractions will be determined. This work will add comprehensive data and insight into soil C dynamics of fire-driven temperate grasslands, contributing immensely to C cycling models globally.

The frequency and spatial extent of fires in the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park
10:36 - 10:39
Presented by :
Natasha Moore, SiVEST Environmental Consulting
Co-authors :
Ian Meiklejohn, Rhodes University

Fires are a common and natural occurrence globally, and specifically on the African continent. The Drakensberg mountains are home to southern Africa's high-altitude fire-climax grasslands, where fire is the dominant management tool. Fire is used to maintain grasslands in the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site (UDP WHS), located on the eastern escarpment of the KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg. This study aimed to investigate the spatial and temporal frequency of fires using remote sensing. Remote sensing offers a set of supportive tools for the management of this sensitive vegetation, specifically to assess the frequency and spatial extent of fires. Field assessments can then be used to assess the impact of fires. Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) active fire detection point data were processed to investigate the temporal resolution of fires. Landsat 5 and 8 imagery were utilised for conducting normalised burn ratios (NBR) to determine the spatial extent of the burn scars of fires. The remote sensing results showed the main fire season in the UDP WHS was from May to October, and annual burn scars from the available Landsat data for 1998 to 2017 ranged from 22.5% to 57.67% of the UDP WHS. The results from the remotely sensed data were used to select study sites for assessing the effects of fire frequency on soil properties. Remote sensing was shown to be an effective tool for monitoring fires in the UDP WHS, with a combination of satellite data producing the best results, and has the potential to be incorporated in fire management in the UDP WHS.

10:30 - 11:00
Main Deck, Foyer Area & Lower Deck
Morning Tea
11:00 - 13:00
Rholands Hall
Session 5: Special Session: Arm in Arm - Linking Conservation Managers and Local Communities to Achieve Conservation Goals
Format : Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Speakers
Patsy Hampson, GroundTruth
Gary De Winnaar, GroundTruth
Ayanda Lepheana, GroundTruth
Juan Tedder, GroundTruth
Mahabe Mojela, Environmental And Rural Solutions
Moderators
Mark Graham, GroundTruth

How community partnerships and citizen science tools can be used to achieve catchment conservation by incorporating protection of aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity, restoration of degraded lands and improved water resources management, with a specific focus on key aspects of aquatic ecosystems, identification of priority areas, water recourse challenges, social processes, tools for monitoring and management, and the potential upscaling of citizen science tools.

The well-being of life on Earth is governed by the availability of clean water. Despite only 0.014% of all water on Earth being accessible as freshwater, 80% of these resources are currently being impacted through human activities. As a 'water-scarce' country, South African catchments have experienced continued anthropogenic pressure for several decades, and this has direct and indirect implications for the rivers and wetlands that support the natural water resource base. The current drought and recent flooding events throughout South Africa have had significant impacts on the environment and human well-being alike, and as such, the conservation and management of South Africa's freshwater ecosystems and associated terrestrial ecosystems is now imperative if we are to adequately protect these precious commodities. Moreover, the conservation of freshwater ecosystems through holistic catchment planning and management contributes to the fulfilment of a number of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and particularly SDG 3 "Good Health and Well-Being", SDG 6 "Clean Water and Sanitation", SDG 14 "Life Below Water" and SDG 16 "Life on Land". Contrary to this, emphasis is often not placed on freshwater systems, despite the critical role they play in biodiversity conservation; acting as natural linkages between terrestrial and coastal/marine systems, while supplying vital ecosystem services and supporting human well-being.

It is necessary to prioritise the conservation of water resources and associated ecosystems (i.e. terrestrial and aquatic), and yet adequate monitoring and evaluation of such systems around the country is often limited by financial and logistical constraints. Increasingly, it is being appreciated that catchment-wide management, which actively integrates the communities living in those catchments, is required in order to achieve sustainable water resource conservation goals. This led to the recent launch of the "Capacity 4 Catchments" information platform through the Water Research Commission, and published report "Development of Citizen Science Water Resource Monitoring Tools and Communities of Practice for South Africa and the World". It is in this light that we wish to highlight the efforts, innovations, and tools currently available that may enhance community-level involvement in identifying and addressing issues within aquatic environments that are linked to the overall health of a catchment. The session will also showcase how catchment conservation through citizen science and community partnerships can be used to enhance biodiversity conservation efforts. An overview of catchment initiatives, freshwater prioritisation planning methods, and source to sea approaches will be presented along with some of the citizen science tools and social learning programmes that have been successfully implemented through various case studies.

Scaling and resourcing of citizen science based water quality monitoring tools
11:00 - 11:15
Presented by :
Patsy Hampson, GroundTruth
Co-authors :
Mark Graham, GroundTruth
Mike Ward, Creating Sustainable Value (CSV)
Heila Lotz-Sisitka, Rhodes University
Jim Taylor, Independent Researcher UKZN
Priya Vallabh, Rhodes University
Faye Brownell, Duzi-uMngeni Conservation Trust
Morakane Madiba, Rhodes University

Unlike traditional conservation approaches which view the world through scientists' eyes, a citizen science approach encompasses the perspectives of everyday people, how they see the world and interact with it. Community- or citizen-based water quality monitoring (CBWQM) is emerging as an important practice to consolidate democracy in South Africa, with the potential to enhance water quality management. This is supported by practical and accessible 'tools of science' and initiatives such as the 'Enviro Champs' model and 'Adopt-a-River', which are having a profound effect on changing the way that science and conservation are put into practice. By equipping communities with the necessary tools and instilling a sense of advocacy, managers and conservationists receive on-the-ground support, freshwater resources are safeguarded, and a shared language and set of common goals are created. Pollution, infestations of invasive plant species, and increased enrichment of nutrients within freshwater systems are just a few of the many examples reducing catchment health and resilience. A range of tools was developed, as part of citizen science interventions, including social processes, water stewardship and education around freshwater ecosystems, so as to better respond to the challenges within South Africa. The successes and limitations are presented here, along with the proposal to take the development of the tools one step further. Currently, researchers are investigating the alignment of the current CBWQM tools and initiatives within national development plans, i.e. Integrated Water Quality Management, and, at an international level, aligning with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). What is envisaged is a scaling-up process, through which the tools and learning processes can be more widely accessed and applied, and sustainable funding or business models for this kind of work are developed, all of which is imperative for the conservation of southern African freshwater resources.

Priorisation of catchment areas for improved conservation and water service delivery using GIS spatial analyses: A case study from the Umzimvubu river catchment
11:15 - 11:30
Presented by :
Gary De Winnaar, GroundTruth
Co-authors :
Patsy Hampson, GroundTruth
Nicky McLeod, Environmental And Rural Solutions
Rosanne Stanway, Conservation South Africa

As global demands for natural resources increases, so then do the pressures exerted on ecosystems increase. The developing ecological deficit is reaching critical levels to the point where ecosystems are unable to deliver valuable services such as water to meet human demands. This is particularly the case in semi-arid countries such as South Africa, which continues to experience extreme water shortages and periods of severe drought. The uMzimvubu Catchment Partnership Programme (UCPP) in the Eastern Cape aims to conserve the river system through sustainable restoration and maintenance of the catchment. As a catchment, it is ranked third out of the 148 secondary catchments draining South Africa based on the proportion of strategic water source areas (SWSAs). It showcases exciting water governance partnerships regarding catchment management and water use through collaborative conservation of ecological infrastructure. It is a critical water resource and an important economic hub, yet catchment areas continue to experience considerable declines in water quality and water supply, coupled with the fast-growing population. This study presents findings from a holistic, catchment-based spatial analysis conducted through collaboration with Conservation South Africa (CSA), a key stakeholder of the UCPP. Outcomes highlight catchment areas for prioritising catchment management interventions through protection, restoration and stakeholder co-engagement to promote water-related services and to safeguard freshwater biodiversity patterns and processes by linking people and ecological infrastructure under the banner of "healthy catchments, healthy rivers, healthy people".

Case study: Mpophomeni Enviro Champs save Midmar project - citizen-based water quality management
11:45 - 12:00
Presented by :
Ayanda Lepheana, GroundTruth
Co-authors :
Juan Tedder, GroundTruth

Water is a precious natural resource and, as such, water quality management strategies need to be monitored and evaluated correctly. The pollution of water resources, through the discharge of effluent, can have drastic effects on human health. The township of Mpophomeni is situated less than 4 km upstream of Midmar Dam, which provides water to Durban and Pietermaritzburg, and a number of watercourses run directly through Mpophomeni and into Midmar Dam. The Mpophomeni sewerage system is dysfunctional and overburdened, with the result that raw sewage frequently flows into Midmar Dam from the township. However, a small group of volunteers known as the Enviro Champs began a project to address the persistent flow of raw sewage into the local streams. The activities of the Enviro Champs are focused towards wastewater monitoring and reporting, illegal dump location monitoring, and conducting environmental education utilising citizen science tools including miniSASS, clarity tubes, and GeoODK open-source software. The Mpophomeni Enviro Champs initiative has been key in making a significant contribution to reducing the issues around poor sanitation system management in the area, thus decreasing the pollution going into Midmar Dam. This initiative resulted in the number of overflowing manholes due to sewer surcharge being reduced from 180 in 2014 to 25 in 2018. This was achieved by intensive monitoring of problematic areas and reporting of infrastructure failure and vandalism to local authorities, thus allowing rapid responses in attending to sewage line blockages and surcharges by the municipality. Community education related to all the Enviro Champs activities has become the hallmark of the project. Building relationships with local government, the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), as well as, with Umgeni Water have been key in the success of this initiative.

Citizen science initiatives with a focus on river walks - identified challenges, successes and applicability based on the findings from two cases studies at differing catchment scales
12:00 - 12:15
Presented by :
Juan Tedder, GroundTruth

Citizen science tools and initiatives allow interested parties to participate in advancing scientific knowledge and caring for the environment. Citizen science projects are increasingly being undertaken internationally and have involved contributions from hundreds of thousands of people. Examples, include investigating the invertebrate community in streams as part of the local miniSASS initiative, participating in computer-based research on the Zooniverse platform, and recording Yellowstone National Park geyser eruptions for the Yellowstone Citizen Science initiative. While citizen science is still a burgeoning concept in South Africa, several initiatives have and are being undertaken. For example, the Duzi uMngeni Conservation Trust (DUCT) "Mayday for Rivers" project, which entailed a river walk, from source to sea, along the uMngeni River in KwaZulu-Natal in 2012, was aimed at raising public awareness on the state of our rivers. DUCT has subsequently conducted several smaller river walks which have consequently inspired the Kloof Conservancy to complete their own river walk in 2017. Both groups utilised citizen science tools as part of their river walks, to great success. Based on the outcomes from these river walks, we discuss some of the successes and challenges faced, identify useful and interesting information gathered, review management and conservation implications, and advocated for best-practice methods going forward.

Case study: Shiyabizali monitoring of Howick Waste Water Treatment Works
12:15 - 12:30
Presented by :
Ayanda Lepheana, GroundTruth
Co-authors :
Juan Tedder, GroundTruth

Waterborne sewage can have drastic effects on human health, such as rapidly spreading deadly diseases like cholera. Along with these threats to human health are environmental threats, like eutrophication of freshwater systems. The Howick Waste Water Treatment Works (HWWTW) deals with untreated sewage from the areas of Howick, Howick West and Mpophomeni. HWWTW treats between six to eight megalitres of sewage a day. Treated effluent is released back into the uMngeni River through an outflow pipe, which discharges at the informal settlement of Shiyabazali. In 2011, uMngeni Water Audit Reports indicated that the HWWTW treated effluent discharge was not meeting the required standards and was contributing to increasing eutrophication trends at the Albert Falls dam. A pilot study revealed that the concentration of suspended solids measured at the treated effluent discharge point was correlated to the quality of the treated effluent. Rainfall and increased human population in the area were two key variables that were drivers affecting the effective functionality of the facility, but, in reality, poor management was the key issue. A citizen science-driven water quality monitoring initiative, that engaged a wide community of partners through public participation was adopted, and proved key in improving the quality of the treated effluent. Working closely with a resident of Shiyabazali, water clarity samples were collected at 8 am, 12 noon and 5 pm daily using a clarity tube. A modelled equation, based on results from the pilot study, was used to convert clarity readings into suspended solids (SS) (mg/L) reading. From 7686 SS readings over seven years, only 5% were within the general limit values. The results were issued to the public, and when they exceeded the stipulated limits, required threshold, garnered intense social interest and outcries, resulting in management initiating investigations into the cause.

The three-legged pot of successful spring sourcing: Case study from Matatiele
12:30 - 12:45
Presented by :
Mahabe Mojela, Environmental And Rural Solutions
Co-authors :
Nicky McLeod, Environmental And Rural Solutions

Communities living along the Maloti Drakensberg mountain watershed north of Matatiele in the Eastern Cape (former Transkei) are dependent on spring and surface water for their daily domestic potable supply. Pumped reticulated supplies are unreliable at best, largely due to technical, resourcing and management challenges faced by the district water source authority. This montane grassland area is rich in surface seeps and small streams, where the Umzimvubu drainage system rises before winding its way to the Indian Ocean at Port St Johns. The region is also heavily impacted by invasive alien plants, mainly silver and black wattle, which severely compromise these water sources and the ecological infrastructure in the area through their thirsty habits. Limited resources for tackling water access and ecosystem services security actions, like alien plant removal, grazing management and spring protection, lead to innovative ways for deciding on the lowest hanging fruit for optimal investments, as well as supporting governance-based strategies for ensuring that such investments are maintained. Environmental & Rural Solutions (ERS) has been exploring, together with traditional leadership structures, youth groups and other Umzimvubu catchment partners, how to most effectively prioritise real landscape-based livelihood needs, including spring rehabilitation and grassland recovery to underpin improved livestock production and rangeland stewardship. This has required an interesting reiterative mix of consulting local 'wisdom trusts', GIS plotting, and field verification 'phenomenology'. This creates a sound platform for implementing NGOs to select sources to most efficiently restore and monitor, in collaboration with local citizens and district authorities. This colourful presentation will share some of the experiences in facilitating responsible, appropriate source selection and monitoring, using a variety of citizen science-friendly tools which involve and enable and local land users.

11:00 - 13:00
Chapel
Session 6: Special Session: Global Change Research and Monitoring in the Maloti-Drakensberg Mountain System (South Africa-Lesotho) I
Format : Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Speakers
Ralph Clark, University Of The Free State
Michele Toucher, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
Ahmed Abdelmoneim, University Of The Free State
Byron Gray, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
Jemma Finch, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Stuart Demmer, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Tamanna Patel, South African Environmental Observation Network / University Of The Witwatersrand
Moderators
Sue Janse Van Rensburg, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)

This session will provide an update on cutting edge science being undertaken in the Maloti-Drakensberg mountain system, an international mountain system shared between South Africa and Lesotho. The session provides a multi-disciplinary overview, highlighting inter alia outputs from the long-term sentinel site in Cathedral Peak (managed by SAEON and Ezemvelo), and the multi-disciplinary research being undertaken by various groups across the Maloti-Drakensberg, including the Afromontane Research Unit.

Attempts are being made to provide an enabling environment for multi-disciplinary research in the Maloti-Drakensberg through the establishment of long-term research and monitoring nodes, and the promotion of regional and international collaboration. A specific objective is to focus on technology innovation and technical capacity building, and promote the training of graduate and post-graduate students who can provide the foundation for the development of a robust and indigenous community of practice to address complex issues ('Wicked Problems' – notably communal rangeland degradation) that threaten the sustainability of the Maloti-Drakensberg. Given that southern African mountains are poorly represented in the global knowledge economy, the session provides a powerful opportunity to showcase the research being conducted in this context, together with highlighting research gaps – particularly the need to develop social-ecological systems thinking for understanding processes and dynamics in the Maloti-Drakensberg that can inform a 'science to policy to action' pipeline.

Key objectives of this interactive session are to:

  • Profile recent research findings and emerging understanding at local, regional and global scales
  • Facilitate discussions on the challenges and opportunities of long-term research and monitoring sites, including how we build more powerful user-driven platforms and enhance collaboration
  • Discuss and develop a coordinated and robust research and observation framework to advance science outcomes
  • Discuss the complexities of researching mountains as social-ecological systems, and the 'research gap' of southern Africa (and the southern hemisphere) mountains in the global knowledge economy
  • Work towards developing the collaborative research agenda for the next 10 years
The Afromontane Research Unit: A continental leader in African mountain research
11:00 - 11:15
Presented by :
Ralph Clark, University Of The Free State

In the global discourse, southern African mountains remain some of the most poorly considered in terms of understanding them and their 'Wicked Problems' within the framework of social-ecological systems thinking. Accordingly, growing a community of practice of excellence is necessary to fill this gap and provide sound input into policy and practice for future mountain sustainability. Of particular concern is the challenge of compromised water production from rangeland degradation, invasive species, afforestation, mining and climate change. The Afromontane Research Unit (ARU) based on the QwaQwa Campus of the University of the Free State seeks to become a continental leader in African mountain research. With an immediate focus on its 'back garden', the Maloti-Drakensberg mountains, the ARU is driving a high-intensity research portfolio; is attracting high-quality students and postgrads; and forming strong partnerships with other academic players and industry in southern Africa and beyond. Research is being channelled into transdisciplinary themes that provide input into highly relevant and complex local situations that have global implications. The ARU has four objectives:

  1. To contribute intellectually and practically to the sustainable development discourse of the Maloti-Drakensberg transfrontier conservation area as a unique social-ecological system
  2. To place the poorly studied southern African montane systems (i.e. those south of the Congo rainforest and Tanzania) onto the continental and global mountain research, policy and governance arena
  3. To facilitate the development of a mountain research 'community of practice' within Africa that leads African mountain research from within Africa
  4. To inform mountain hypotheses, theories and impacts of global significance from an African perspective, and thus contribute to strengthening the role of the south in the global mountain research agenda.

The ARU welcomes productive, collaborative partnerships with those seeking to understand southern African mountains as social-ecological entities, and actively encourages visits and exchanges with the ARU.

Long-term hydroclimatic trends in a strategic water source area and the implications for South African water security
11:15 - 11:30
Presented by :
Michele Toucher, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
Co-authors :
Byron Gray, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
Sue Janse Van Rensburg, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
Kent Lawrence, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
Siphiwe Mfeka, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)

The economic development and wellbeing of society in South Africa are contingent on key ecosystem services. Water is considered one of South Africa's potentially key limiting factors for economic development. The Drakensberg mountains have been designated a strategic water source area, and to ensure the continued sustainable supply of water, it is imperative that the potential impacts of environmental change be understood, particularly considering that the climate change signal is often stronger in high altitude regions which are considered to be more sensitive to changes in climate. To be able to detect changes, reduce uncertainty, and understand environmental change impacts, long-term climatological and hydrological monitoring is essential. The long history of intensive data collection, the ongoing and expanded monitoring by SAEON, and knowledge that exists surrounding the Cathedral Peak research catchments in the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife-managed uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park, has made them an ideal site to begin to understand changes that have occurred and the impacts of these. Consistent positive trends in temperature have been observed. Trends in rainfall records indicate a drying through the historical record, particularly during autumn. The 2018/2019 summer was one of the driest summers on record. Cumulatively the rainfall recorded for the 2018/2019 summer was 483 mm below the historical summer average (1948 – 1987). These changes have had an influence on the fire danger index for the region over time. Decreasing trends are evident in the historical streamflow records which correspond to the drying trends in the historical rainfall records. With continued monitoring and a better understanding of the processes driving the changes in hydrological response, resilient and adaptive water management can be ensured.

Temperature changes in the Maloti-Drakensberg region: an analysis of trends for the 1960 - 2016 period
11:30 - 11:45
Presented by :
Ahmed Abdelmoneim, University Of The Free State

Nature has been adversely affected by increasing industrialisation, especially during the later part of the last century, as a result of accelerating technological development, unplanned urbanisation, and incorrect agricultural policies and deforestation, which have contributed to the elevated concentration of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the environment. Greenhouse gas accumulation has an adverse impact on meteorological and hydro-meteorological parameters, particularly temperature. Temperature plays a prominent and well-known role in evaporation, transpiration and changes in water demand, thus significantly affecting both water availability and food security. Therefore, a systematic understanding of temperature is important for fighting food insecurity and household poverty. Variations in temperature are often assessed and characterised through trend analysis. Hence, the objective of this paper is to determine long-term trends in mean monthly maximum and minimum air temperatures for the Maloti-Drakensberg region. The Mann-Kendall, a non-parametric test, was applied to mean air temperature for the 1960 - 2016 period. Gridded maximum and minimum monthly temperature time series data for the study area was downloaded from the KNMI Climate Explorer (available from https://climexp.knmi.nl ). The data were obtained from the Climate Research Unit Time-Series (CRU-TS) at a resolution of 0.5° x 0.5°. A significant rising trend (p < 0.001) was detected with a yearly change in the long-term annual mean maximum and mean minimum temperature by 0.03°C per annum and 0.01°C per annum, respectively. This knowledge has important implications for both the state of the environment and livelihoods in the region since it can be useful in planning and policymaking in water resource management, biodiversity conservation, agriculture, tourism and other sectors of the economy within the region.

Understanding the dynamics between land cover change and water supply in a strategic water source area of South Africa
11:45 - 12:00
Presented by :
Byron Gray, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
Co-authors :
Michele Toucher, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
Alistair Clulow, CWRR, UKZN

Two of the main drivers of environmental change are climate change and land use/cover change (LUCC). The hydrological response of a catchment is dependent, inter alia, upon the land cover of the catchment, and is sensitive to changes thereof, as any changes in land cover alter the partitioning of precipitation into various pathways such as infiltration, total evaporation, surface/near-surface runoff or groundwater recharge. Gaining an understanding of how hydrological processes respond to different land cover changes, will aid in improving our understanding of how hydrological processes may respond to future change. The understanding gained is an important step towards improving water resource management in the future, especially in strategic water source areas such as high-altitude mountainous catchments, which are highly sensitive to environmental change. Considered as the 'water towers' of South Africa, the Drakensberg mountains are an important area for generating the water resources for both Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. Located within the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park, are the intensively monitored Cathedral Peak research catchments, with valuable long-term monitoring datasets dating back to the 1950s. Three Cathedral Peak catchments, with diverse land covers, were identified for intensive hydroclimatological monitoring; these are a pristine grassland catchment, a woody encroached catchment and a heavily degraded catchment. The main components of the water balance (rainfall, total evaporation, soil moisture and streamflow), were monitored. The partitioning of the rainfall component into the other three components was compared across the different LUCC conditions. Despite a relatively similar rainfall amount and pattern, the streamflows in the woody encroached catchment are lower than the pristine grassland. Whereas the heavily degraded catchment has a different flow pattern to the other catchments and the relationship with rainfall does not follow the pattern of the pristine catchment. Total evaporation was also higher in the woody encroached and heavily degraded landscapes.

Reconstructing vegetation and fire history in the Cathedral Peak area of the KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg
12:00 - 12:15
Presented by :
Jemma Finch, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Co-authors :
Trevor Hill, University Of KwaZulu-Natal

Global change has highlighted the need for long-term environmental monitoring to address the limited temporal range of instrumental and historical records. Palaeoecological approaches track ecological change over several thousands of years, providing a baseline understanding of ecosystems prior to human intervention. Here we use a series of sediment cores from four wetland sites in the montane and subalpine belts at Cathedral Peak (KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg) to reconstruct vegetation and fire history. A combination of proxies is applied, including fossil pollen, stable isotopes, macroscopic charcoal, and radiocarbon dating. We use these data to analyse (i) shifts in the dominance of grassland and forest communities over time; (ii) recent changes in fire frequency and/or intensity that may be linked to human activity; and (iii) the appearance of exotic plant types. Radiocarbon results revealed that the oldest sediment cores date back to the mid-Holocene, covering the past 5,000-years. Exotic Pinus pollen was observed in the recent portions of the Catchment VI and Baboon Swamp records and can be used as a supporting time marker for the sediment profiles. Pollen and charcoal records indicate considerable variability between sites, which may be attributed to site-specific characteristics and altitudinal differences. The longest record from Catchment VI suggests relatively stable vegetation through the past 5,000-years, with no obvious shifts in dominance between grassland and forest communities. Two of the four wetland sites showed a clear recent increase in macroscopic charcoal in the past century, suggesting that recent fire frequencies and/or intensities are generally higher than those observed for the precolonial period. Increases in trilete fern spores towards the present day likely include the invasive bracken fern and coincide with increased charcoal in the record. Such long-term insights gained from palaeoecological evidence can be used to inform grassland management in the Drakensberg.

Environmental controllers of grassland stability responses to nutrient addition
12:15 - 12:30
Presented by :
Stuart Demmer, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Co-authors :
Michelle Tedder, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Kevin Kirkman, University Of KwaZulu-Natal

Globally, grasslands are being impacted by human activities. This is having strong impacts on the sustainability of ecosystem functioning. Fertilisation is an important driver of global change in grasslands because this disrupts belowground resource competition, eliminates uncompetitive species and reduces the stabilising effect of species diversity. Whilst there is a substantial body of evidence showing how grassland stability changes in response to anthropogenic activities and changes in diversity, whether particular environmental conditions predispose grassland community destabilisation in response to fertilisation remains poorly understood. We explored how grassland stability over consecutive three-year periods responded to fertilisation in a globally replicated experiment. Sixty-two different sites across five continents with variable climatic, management, edaphic and sward conditions were considered in this investigation. We found that African and North American grassland stability responded negatively to fertilisation. Nutrient addition increased stability in artificially created grasslands but reduced stability in grasslands with a burning regime. Soil property changes induced by nutrient addition also drove changes in stability with changes in macronutrients, but not micronutrients, being important predictors of grassland stability change. Regions, where nutrient addition reduced species asynchrony, increased compositional change and increased species evenness were also associated with stability reductions. These results will be useful for informing policy and management decisions and guidelines concerning human activities in grasslands.

Long-term population trends of mammalian herbivores in the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park and surrounding areas
12:30 - 12:45
Presented by :
Tamanna Patel, South African Environmental Observation Network / University Of The Witwatersrand
Co-authors :
Timothy O'Connor, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
Francesca Parrini, University Of The Witwatersrand

Managing animals requires an accurate estimate and understanding of their long-term population dynamics. The aim of this study was to analyse long-term population trends of indigenous mammalian herbivores in the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park and that of livestock in surrounding communal and commercial farming areas. For the eight indigenous mammalian herbivores assessed, number of individuals, number of sightings, distribution and game ranger patrol hours were recorded for 24 years between 1995 and 2018 by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife as part of ongoing monitoring programmes. Furthermore, the eland population has been monitored annually through aerial surveys. Long-term databases were acquired consisting of population numbers for livestock species in areas immediately surrounding the Drakensberg from 1911 to 1996. A general decreasing trend was evident for majority of wildlife species (blesbok, 74%; common reedbuck, 14%; grey rhebuck, 19%; oribi, 42%). There was high variance in the data for mountain reedbuck, grey duiker, klipspringer and Chacma baboon and clear trends were not discernible. The eland population declined by 25% from 2004 to 2018. All wildlife populations, to some extent, experienced a reduction in distribution throughout the Park in the second half of the monitoring period, with the effect of patrol effort taken into account. Livestock populations showed declining trends in majority of the Magisterial Districts surrounding the Park (average decline – 36%). However, when compared to the 2004 stock census, 50% of the Magisterial Districts showed an increase in livestock numbers, while 50% showed decreasing numbers. This study provides a good understanding of the long-term population trends of both indigenous mammalian herbivores and livestock under different land management practices in the Drakensberg and attempts to identify potential causes of population change. The implications of these trends in terms of the management and objectives of protected and agricultural areas will be discussed.

11:00 - 13:00
Dining Room
Session 7: Threatened Species Conservation I
Format : Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Speakers
Jeanetta Selier, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Wilhelm De Beer, University Of Pretoria
Victoria Hilley, University Of Sussex / Wildlife ACT
Linda Van Den Heever, BirdLife South Africa
Steve McKean, Conservation Outcomes NPC
Claire Lenahan, University Of Pretoria
Evan Haworth, University Of Pretoria
Moderators
Paulette Bloomer, University Of Pretoria
Species in peril – depends on who you talk to and where you are
11:00 - 11:15
Presented by :
Jeanetta Selier, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Co-authors :
Rob Slotow, University Of KwaZulu-Natal

Lions have undergone a reduction of approximately 43% in the last 21 years. On a continental scale, elephants have declined at 8% per annum, and giraffe populations have declined approximately 36 – 40% over three generations. Even though all African range states are in agreement on the ultimate goal, the current debate on how to achieve this, especially when it comes to high-value charismatic species, is extremely polarised, particularly when discussing the inclusion of consumptive use as a conservation tool. In addition, population trends on a regional level for these species are very different. Across the continent, different wildlife management models, and combinations thereof, are used to conserve and manage charismatic species. However, in complex socio-ecological systems, it is imperative that people are at the forefront, and that species, especially those that have a direct impact on people and their livelihoods, have a tangible contribution to human wellbeing. In this presentation, we will explore the different management models used across the continent, the benefits and risks of the various models, and how these models have evolved over time. We evaluate how these models have contributed to species conservation by looking at percentage area under protection, species trends, as well as the resilience of the system to social and ecological changes. Despite the fact that differences in conservation philosophy and management are always highlighted, there are more commonalities than differences between the various approaches across the continent. For conservation to be successful across the continent, a unified African goal is required, in which differences in philosophy and management are recognised and accepted, and that the more diverse and adaptive our management strategies are, and the more our efforts are focussed on positive human outcomes, the more likely we are to achieve positive conservation outcomes across the continent.

The current status of the polyphagous shot hole borer outbreak in South Africa’s native forests
11:15 - 11:30
Presented by :
Wilhelm De Beer, University Of Pretoria
Co-authors :
Trudy Paap, University Of Pretoria

The impact of the polyphagous shot hole borer (PSHB) and its Fusarium fungal symbiont on forest ecosystems in South Africa is alarming. The beetle-fungus combination was first detected killing London plane trees in the KwaZulu-Natal province in early 2017. Since then infestations have been observed on more than 80 species of trees in seven of the nine provinces. These include commercial pecan orchards in the Northern Cape, and many common street and garden tree species in urban areas in six of the provinces. Most concerning are native trees that are infested and dying in urban and natural forests. The impact of all other serious tree pests that South Africa had to deal with in the past, was restricted to the agriculture and forestry sectors. Now, for the first time the country has to deal with a pest that ignores all boundaries, including those between climatic regions, or host tree genera, or orchards, commercial plantations, natural forests, streets, parks, and gardens. Current frameworks in government and other institutions for monitoring, reporting, impact assessment, research, control measures, management strategies, funding, and legislation, are not adequate to deal with the PSHB invasion. A coordinated, national strategy and network is needed to combat the PSHB, or else valuable resources and time will be wasted while the pest is destroying our trees and expanding its territory. Attempts are being made from within and outside government structures to align the different strategies with the needs and agendas of stakeholders.

The influence of lion (Panthera leo) and cheetah (Aciononyx jubatus) distribution and prey preference on wild dog (Lycaon pictus) dynamics at the Manyoni Private Game Reserve, South Africa
11:30 - 11:45
Presented by :
Victoria Hilley, University Of Sussex / Wildlife ACT
Co-authors :
Jenny Thomson, Independent
Heleen Druce, Wildlife ACT
William Hughes, University Of Sussex

Conservation strategies for the African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) are based on creating metapopulations on small enclosed reserves in South Africa. With these reintroductions increasing, prey preferences, habitat selections, and interspecific competition must be considered by reserve managers to ensure the species' survival. In this study we investigated potential interspecific competition amongst three wild dogs, 20 lion, and 19 cheetah at the Manyoni Private Game Reserve (MPGR) in South Africa. The main goal was to examine the prey preference of each predator, and the distribution of both prey and predator species. Analysing observational and triangulated data from 2014 – 2018, both wild dog and cheetah killed more impala than any other prey species, suggesting a dietary overlap. Wild dog also showed preference for nyala (p < 0.001), and lion significantly killed more warthog (p < 0.001) than expected. Cheetah and lion distributions have a potential overlap in the centre of the reserve, and wild dog distributions occurred on the outskirts. Wild dogs were the only species to show a significant preference for the rocky hill habitat type (p = 0.03), suggesting they are being driven to that area to possibly avoid lion. Prey species significantly preferred riparian and thicket habitat types but no preference was shown for rocky hills. These results exhibit a prey preference overlap between wild dog and cheetah, and potential interspecific competition amongst the three predators on MPGR for both prey and habitat. Other studies show that wild dogs avoid lion territory, and have a dietary overlap with cheetah. To avoid dietary competition between cheetah and wild dog, management could introduce more smaller prey species to balance the consumption rate of specific prey. It is also recommended that MPGR monitors their lion population to avoid unnecessary population declines of subordinate predators.

Reviewing the distribution and conservation of South Africa's southern banded snake eagles
11:45 - 12:00
Presented by :
Linda Van Den Heever, BirdLife South Africa
Co-authors :
Melissa Howes-Whitecross, BirdLife South Africa
Hanneline Smit-Robinson, BirdLife South Africa

The KwaZulu-Natal north coast is home to many birds of prey, a large proportion of which have experienced shifts in their distributions in response to large scale habitat transformation linked to anthropogenic activities across the region. One of the most affected species is the southern banded snake eagle (Circaetus fasciolatus), a coastal forest specialist, which is listed regionally as critically endangered in South Africa with an estimated population of fewer than 50 individuals. BirdLife South Africa (BLSA) is working to understand how land cover transformation has impacted the distribution of these cryptic forest raptors and whether the species has adapted to the conversion of their natural coastal forests into a matrix of plantations, mines and human settlements with only pockets of natural forest remaining outside of the formally protected areas. Within the protected area network, an electrocution risk assessment has been conducted to determine the potential exposure of southern banded snake eagles to electrical transformers which they may perch on when hunting. BLSA has conducted surveys of the plantation matrices and protected areas to collect information in conjunction with citizen science records for the development of habitat suitability models and patch connectivity measurements between suitable sites for southern banded snake eagles. Threat mapping identified 21 high risk and 104 medium risk transformer boxes within the core distribution areas. This work will inform the development of conservation management guidelines in conjunction with industry stakeholders, communities and provincial nature conservation authorities, aimed at promoting the survival of southern banded snake eagles and other forest-dwelling raptors in the long-term. With the reduction in available habitat for this species in South Africa, we question whether there should be a push towards a global review of the species conservation status.

Blue swallow. A species in crisis?
12:00 - 12:15
Presented by :
Steve McKean, Conservation Outcomes NPC
Co-authors :
Brent Coverdale, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

Blue swallows (Hirundo atrocaerulea) are a vulnerable species internationally and evaluated as critically endangered in South Africa. This intra-African migratory species is threatened by destruction, degradation and fragmentation of grassland and wetland habitats on both breeding (southern Africa) and non-breeding (East Africa) grounds. The destruction and fragmentation of natural habitat have led to a rapid reduction of an already small population. In KwaZulu-Natal, this species has a narrow habitat preference for Moist Mistbelt Grasslands where it forages and nests. The extent of these grasslands has continued to decline through land-use change at a rate of approximately 6% annually. Achievement of the species conservation target would signal that there are adequate areas of appropriate grassland with suitable nesting and foraging habitat set aside, and where land-use is compatible with blue swallow nesting and foraging requirements. In addition to contributing to protected area expansion goals and supporting private and communal landholders to conserve and manage areas essential for threatened bird species conservation, the BirdLife SA-Conservation Outcomes partnership together with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife is coordinating blue swallow monitoring and conservation in KwaZulu-Natal. This presentation discusses the monitoring results and trends in the blue swallow population status since the early 2000s. Blue swallow populations in KwaZulu-Natal have declined at an average of 3.3% annually since 2000 and are now estimated to be below 25 pairs. Our presentation covers possible reasons for the observed trends and outlines actions being taken to contribute to habitat conservation targets for this species in KwaZulu-Natal e.g. securing habitat through the KZN Biodiversity Stewardship Programme.

Conservation genetics of southern African crane populations
12:15 - 12:30
Presented by :
Claire Lenahan, University Of Pretoria
Co-authors :
Paulette Bloomer, University Of Pretoria
Arrie Klopper, University Of Pretoria
Andrea Hilton-Barber, University Of Pretoria

Cranes are one of the most threatened avian taxa globally. Three IUCN red-listed species occur in southern Africa – the wattled (Grus carunculata), grey crowned (Balearica regulorum) and blue (G. paradisea) cranes. To date, genetic differentiation of only the wattled crane has been studied. Genetic diversity and population structure of the blue and grey crowned cranes, and a genetic basis for the currently recognised grey crowned crane subspecies (B. r. gibbericeps and B. r. regulorum) are important conservation questions. The origin of the isolated Namibian blue crane population also remains uncertain. This project investigates the levels of genetic variation and gene flow found in and among southern African crane populations, and predicts the distribution shifts of the three species' continental ranges from the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) to the present day, 2050 and 2070 using microsatellite and mitochondrial genetic data and species distribution modelling. Microsatellite data show a lack of genetic differentiation within the South African populations of the three species, with subtle differentiation observed between the Botswanan and South African wattled crane samples. The presence of only one or two nucleotide variants in the ND2 sequences of the three species indicates extremely low mitochondrial diversity, which has been noted throughout the crane family. Clear reductions in all the distribution ranges were observed after the LGM. A more extensive historical southern African range was predicted for the blue crane, and the Ethiopian wattled crane population was shown to have always been isolated - suggesting the potential for taxonomic differentiation there. The project highlights the importance of continued research into the mitochondrial genetics of the crane family, and into determining whether the grey crowned crane subspecies and Ethiopian wattled crane population are genetically supported as independent evolutionary units so as to ensure the streamlining of crane conservation efforts.

Phylogeography of a threatened grassland bird: Gurney’s sugarbird (Promerops gurneyi)
12:30 - 12:45
Presented by :
Evan Haworth, University Of Pretoria
Co-authors :
Paulette Bloomer, University Of Pretoria
Michael Cunningham, University Of Pretoria
Dawie De Swardt , National Museum Bloemfontein
Arrie Klopper, University Of Pretoria

Sugarbirds are a family of two socially-monogamous passerine species endemic to southern Africa, with the Cape sugarbird (Promerops cafer) occurring in the fynbos biome of south-western South Africa and Gurney's sugarbird (Promerops gurneyi) occurring in the grasslands of eastern South Africa, eSwatini and Zimbabwe. The distribution of P. gurneyi is fragmented in comparison to that of P. cafer, owing to the sparse occurrence of the silver sugarbush (Protea roupelliae), a fire-sensitive species that is Gurney's sugarbird's preferred source of food, shelter and nesting sites. According to recent data, P. gurneyi populations are in decline and revision of the species' IUCN conservation status to a threatened category may be warranted. It is, therefore, necessary to understand genetic diversity and risk of inbreeding in this species. We used six polymorphic microsatellite markers and one mitochondrial gene (ND2) to assess genetic diversity and structure of P. gurneyi in South Africa. We used maximum entropy modelling to predict the historical and future distributions of P. gurneyi and several other declining co-distributed grassland birds - all of which show a similar trend of increasingly limited suitable habitat through time. We describe novel universal avian primers which amplify the entire ND2 coding sequence across a broad range of bird orders. Our results suggest low levels of genetic structure at mitochondrial and microsatellite loci with no detectable inbreeding and large effective population sizes. We conclude that it is unlikely that inbreeding poses an immediate risk to the persistence of P. gurneyi in South Africa, although further work is required to assess the extent of genetic divergence among geographically isolated populations.

13:00 - 14:00
Marquee
Lunch
14:00 - 15:30
Rholands Hall
Session 8: Special Session: The Role of Indigenous Knowledge and Cultural Perspectives in Biodiversity Conservation
Format : Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Speakers
Yvette Ehlers Smith, Scientific Committee & Presenter, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Natasha Constant, University Of Venda
Milingoni Peter Tshisikhawe, University Of Venda
Menzi Nxumalo, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Bheka Nxele, EThekwini Municipality
Moderators
Simangele Sithole, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

The recognition that local and indigenous people have their own ecological understandings, conservation practices, and resource management strategies has important and far-reaching social and environmental implications. Indigenous Knowledge related to the natural environment can add value to the overall conservation and sustainable management of natural habitats and ecosystems. Indigenous people are finally recognised as essential partners in environmental management. Acknowledging Indigenous Knowledge transforms the relationship between biodiversity managers and local communities.

However, differences between scientific and indigenous worldviews continue to create barriers to meaningful collaboration, as does the widespread assumption that conventional science is superior to other knowledge systems. Cultural protection afforded to species and landscapes may be a more effective conservation practice compared to alternative measures. Where cultural associations and Indigenous Knowledge has become eroded, practices and values are lost. Considering that human communities evolved within specific ecosystems, it is therefore critical to document and explore these beliefs from an ethno-conservation perspective.

In this special session, we will explore some of the research currently incorporating Indigenous Knowledge within a biodiversity and cultural conservation context and we hope to strategize methods to align conventional and cultural conservation practices.

Indigenous Knowledge and achieving the Aichi biodiversity targets
14:00 - 14:15
Presented by :
Yvette Ehlers Smith, Scientific Committee & Presenter, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Co-authors :
David Ehlers Smith, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Colleen Downs, University Of KwaZulu-Natal

Humans evolved alongside wildlife and have adapted ecosystem-specific methods of sustainable resource management. Indigenous Knowledge (IK) is accrued and is of a practical nature, relating to the harvesting of food and medicine, and the collection of fuel and building materials. Target 18 of the Aichi biodiversity targets reads: "By 2020, the traditional knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and their customary use of biological resources, are respected, subject to national legislation and relevant international obligations, and fully integrated and reflected in the implementation of the Convention ..." We pose the question: "What headway has South Africa made in terms of achieving this target?" Using the Web of Science, we found 171 studies published across 72 scientific journals that conducted research involving IK in South Africa from 1994 to 2019, comprising 20 overarching themes. IK relating to medicinal use accounted for 57% of publications, followed by bioprospecting, and health care (8% respectively). Conservation and sustainable use ranked 4th and 7th, respectively, accounting for 4% and 3% of the overall themes. We sub-divided themes into 15 sub-categories to further describe the context of each manuscript. Ethnobotany accounted for 72% of the sub-categories, predominantly within the themes of medicine (n = 91), bioprospecting (n = 10) and conservation and food security (n = 4 each). Although there has been substantial research exploring IK within South Africa, very little published literature pertains to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, as per Target 18. The conservation of biodiversity underpins the existence of IK, and vice versa. It is imperative that we prioritise IK and explore a more holistic approach to meeting all of the Aichi targets by incorporating the participation of indigenous and local communities as a matter of urgency.

Indigenous uses and cultural practices associated with small carnivores: Challenges and common grounds for biodiversity conservation in African agro-ecosystems
14:15 - 14:30
Presented by :
Natasha Constant, University Of Venda
Co-authors :
Lourens Swanepoel, University Of Venda
Peter Taylor, University Of Venda

Conservation policies have often ignored the potential role of traditional cultural practices and their contribution to conservation goals. Recently, there has been growing recognition of the role of cultural practices and belief systems that have the potential to enhance and provide lessons for sustainable resource use and conservation. On the other hand, some local practices, and harmful cultural beliefs can lead to overexploitation and indiscriminate killing of wildlife negatively impacting species populations. This case study approach explores indigenous uses, practices and belief systems, associated with mammalian predators, and how these factors influence tolerance for carnivore conservation. Semi-structured interviews (n = 30) and focus groups (n = 20) including traditional healers and diviners, hunters, and farmers regarding indigenous uses, practices and belief systems associated with twelve small carnivore species (avian, and small mammal predators) that persist in agro-ecosystems of the Vhembe District of South Africa. Participants demonstrated considerable knowledge of the utilisation of carnivores for medicines and other cultural uses, as well as several strategies promoting the protection of certain species through traditional institutions, taboos, and as totemic species. The association of some carnivore species with witchcraft and ecosystem disservices related to negative impacts on human health, and predation on domestic livestock, reduced the tolerance for carnivore conservation. Our analysis reveals the challenges and opportunities for reviving traditional practices for carnivore conservation in agro-ecosystems. We conclude that the philosophy of co-management approaches, which advocate for equitable power-sharing, rights and responsibilities between the state, and local resource users, are important components of carnivore conservation outside of protected areas. This is based on the premise that local communities' voices are acknowledged, heard and integrated into conservation management plans and policies.

Contribution of indigenous knowledge systems in the management of Brackenrigea zanguebarica
14:30 - 14:45
Presented by :
Milingoni Peter Tshisikhawe, University Of Venda

The role of indigenous knowledge systems in the management of natural resources existed since time immemorial amongst indigenous African communities. The Vhavenda indigenous communities of Limpopo in South Africa have also maintained these cultural practices. They have used their indigenous knowledge systems to manage resources deemed dear to them. These indigenous knowledge systems used in the management of natural resources among the Vhavenda were administered and regulated by traditional leaders and other knowledge holders. A number of mechanisms were used in the monitoring and management of natural resources. This review looks at the practices used in the management of the critically endangered Brackenridgea zanguebarica, a tree species that only occurs in Thengwe region of Limpopo. It also looks at the dynamics of population structure studies conducted over the years. The species has been utilised and managed through indigenous knowledge systems which included taboos, secrecy, and traditional leadership governance over the years. Government and scientific bodies have also played their role in monitoring the utilisation of natural resources from this important species. Population studies conducted on the species over the years through quadrat sampling methods have revealed that unsustainable harvesting is having a negative impact on population viability. This review recommends that more still needs to be done in order to achieve maximum protection and management of B. zanguebarica.

Naming invasive alien plants into indigenous languages: KwaZulu-Natal case study, South Africa
15:00 - 15:15
Presented by :
Menzi Nxumalo, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Bheka Nxele, EThekwini Municipality

The spread of invasive alien plants (IAPs) across countries does not only reduce indigenous biodiversity richness and degrade environmental integrity of local environments, but it also threatens ecosystem services. Invasive alien plants pose negative impacts on the cultural application of indigenous plants. Indigenous plants, as constituents of biodiversity, have an intrinsic value and are also used for various reasons including traditional medicine, food, shelter and cultural rituals. Within the province of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, indigenous plants are traditionally well known by their isiZulu common names. With the influx of IAPs, confusion between indigenous and alien plants has crept in. In some instances, an indigenous plant and an alien plant which resemble each other share the same isiZulu common name. This is a concern when people specifically intended to harvest indigenous plants for medicinal use. Additional problems arise when the intention is to propagate an indigenous species and yet an IAP is propagated instead. Furthermore, where indigenous plants have been over-utilised, switching to an IAP that resembles the scarce indigenous plant occurs. Finally, when it comes to naming IAPs (since the process is unregulated), IAPs are given attractive, positive names that further create a misconception that "these plants are good". A model for naming IAPs into indigenous languages is presented. This work advocates for the engagement of indigenous communities in the naming of IAPs into indigenous languages and that the naming process should be regulated. Existing common names, including English common names, should be reviewed and IAPs should be given negative names.

14:00 - 15:30
Chapel
Session 9: Special Session: Global Change Research and Monitoring in the Maloti-Drakensberg Mountain System (South Africa-Lesotho) II
Format : Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Speakers
Chris Curtis, University Of Johannesburg
Nicky McLeod, Environmental And Rural Solutions
Sonja Krüger, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Lerato Molekoa, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Moderators
Ian Rushworth, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Threats to Afromontane tarns, pans and lakes in the Maloti-Drakensberg region
14:00 - 14:15
Presented by :
Chris Curtis, University Of Johannesburg
Co-authors :
Neil Rose, University College London
Jennifer Fitchett, University Of The Witwatersrand
Alice Milner, Royal Holloway, University Of London

While the Maloti-Drakensberg region is not generally associated with lakes, there are over 200 small, natural water bodies known as 'tarns' or pans, which occur from the foothills at around 1,600 m up to at least 3,000 m in altitude. These tarns are found from the Free State in the north, down through KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and Lesotho to the Eastern Cape in the south. There are also dammed wetland lakes with evidence that larger water bodies were present before lake levels were raised, including Lake Let'eng-la Letsie in Lesotho and Lake Matatiele in the Mountain Lake Nature Reserve near Matatiele in the Eastern Cape. Previous studies have demonstrated that Drakensberg tarns have extremely dilute waters with a very low buffering capacity which makes them extremely sensitive to acid deposition. Here we present evidence from the monitoring of precipitation chemistry at Cathedral Peak (KZN) and palaeolimnological studies of lake sediment records from Let'eng-la Letsie and Lake Matatiele that industrial signals of contamination associated with coal-fired power stations are found across the region. High rainfall in the region and atmospheric recirculation patterns transporting pollutants from the Highveld mean that wet deposition fluxes of acidic sulphur and nitrogen compounds in the Maloti-Drakensberg may be among the highest in southern Africa. Furthermore, the great majority of tarns in the region are seasonal rather than permanent water bodies and hence likely to be extremely sensitive to the effects of climate change. Further studies are required to assess the magnitude of threats to the unique endemic biodiversity associated with tarns and lakes in the region.

Effects of historical land management and atmospheric deposition on streamwater chemistry and biogeochemical fluxes at the Cathedral Peak experimental catchments
14:15 - 14:30
Presented by :
Chris Curtis, University Of Johannesburg
Co-authors :
Sue Janse Van Rensburg, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
Aobakwe Lenkwe, Wits University
Mauro Lourenco, Wits University

The Cathedral Peak experimental catchments were initiated in the 1930s, primarily to investigate the effects of afforestation on catchment hydrology and, later, to investigate the additional effects of land management (grazing and burning regimes). Adjacent catchments with very similar physical attributes (vegetation, soils, geology, aspect) provided an ideal setup for comparing the effects of terrestrial management and processes on streamwater flows and chemistry. During the 1980s, both water quality and rainfall chemistry were monitored but these activities had largely ceased by the 1990s. The revival of aquatic and meteorological monitoring activities within the last decade at the Cathedral Peak experimental catchments by SAEON has presented opportunities not only for comparison of current and historical water quality across different land management strategies, but also for investigating the effects of climate change and acid deposition on biogeochemical cycles in Afromontane grassland catchments. The mountain streams draining these catchments in a strategic water source area provide critically important ecosystem services and harbour aquatic biodiversity in a designated National Freshwater Ecosystem Priority Area. We demonstrate that the history of catchment management in terms of fire regimes and catchment planting and deforestation have measurable impacts on water quality even after several decades. Small but significant differences in major ion chemistry, electrical conductivity and pH were found between the catchments which appear to be caused by differences in management history. Likewise, there have been some significant increases in major ions since the 1980s which differ between catchments and may also be linked to the longer-term impacts of catchment management. In addition, there are possible impacts of atmospheric deposition given the high wet deposition loads of fossil fuel and biomass burning derived compounds in this region.

Wicked problems and wiser ways: Socio-ecological research lessons from Matatiele
14:30 - 14:45
Presented by :
Nicky McLeod, Environmental And Rural Solutions

Action research in the upper Umzimvubu landscape, in the southern Maloti-Drakensberg transfrontier watershed, is focused not on research outputs but on learning how to change rural lives most effectively through increased resilience. The citizens of the rural Matatiele area are dependent on the natural resource base for their livelihoods. While this montane grassland area is rich in biodiversity, biomass and surface seeps (constituting the source of the Umzimvubu basin), it is poor in data, trend monitoring and economic opportunity. Along with rangeland degradation, it is also endowed with one of the most wicked problems of all: being heavily impacted by woody invasive alien plants (IAS). IAS severely compromise the vital ecological infrastructure of this strategic water source area. Limited economic resources to address ecological problems give rise to innovative strategies, but require two key elements: good governance and sound, affordable monitoring to measure the effectiveness of strategies. In partnership with traditional leadership, youth groups, and the Umzimvubu Catchment Partnership Programme, Environmental & Rural Solutions (ERS) has been exploring how to most effectively prioritise, implement and monitor landscape-based livelihood needs. This has fostered a vibrant and reiterative mix of citizen science, action-learning, and collaborations with national and international partners. This 'boots on the ground' action learning is being complemented by associations with research institutions that include the South African National Biodiversity Institute, the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and Rhodes, Dartmouth, Coventry and Cambridge universities. These relationships assist with protocols for longer-term monitoring. We present the steep learning experiences and highlights of the last five years and the successes in facilitating the restoration of good governance and resultant economic and ecological wins.

The uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park - an otter sanctuary in the face of global change
14:45 - 15:00
Presented by :
Sonja Krüger, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Co-authors :
Dave Rowe-Rowe, Retired

The uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park is a large mountain protected area that conserves the headwater catchments of five major rivers in South Africa. Many rivers outside protected areas have been altered or degraded following human population expansion, thus the 240,000 ha park has been considered a sanctuary for otters in the past. Throughout the world, several otter species have declined in number and range as a result of pollution, habitat destruction and over-hunting. We aim to determine whether the park continues to provide a refuge for these species in the face of global change. The two otter species that occur in the park are the African clawless otter, Aonyx capensis, and spotted-necked otter, Hydrictis maculicollis. Surveys of signs of these two species, as well as that of water mongoose, Atilax paludinosus, were undertaken in late winter/early spring along 5 km stretches of the Pholela, Lotheni and Little Mooi rivers in the Cobham, Lotheni and Kamberg sections of the park respectively between 2014 and 2019. As otters are seldom seen, sign (faeces, spraint sites (latrines), tracks, dens) are used to establish presence and estimate numbers with the number of spraint sites (latrines) being the most reliable in estimating otter abundance. The results obtained were compared with those reported for the 1970s and 1990s. The results suggest that the park's otter population appears stable and has not declined significantly in the past 30 - 50 years, and thus continues to contribute significantly to otter conservation in the country.

Bridging floral species data gaps in the Maloti-Drakensberg
15:00 - 15:15
Presented by :
Lerato Molekoa, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)

The Maloti-Drakensberg mountains boast southern Africa's highest mountain peaks, with many rising over 3,000 m above sea level. The region is uniquely positioned in one of South Africa's biodiversity hotspots and consists of distinct flora that has adapted to extremely high-altitude environments. The Drakensberg has more than 2,500 flowering plant species, with an estimated 13% endemic to the area. These species are vulnerable to environmental changes and susceptible to degradation. Continuous monitoring and management of these floral species are paramount for conservation purposes. The Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers Programme (CREW) frequently arranges field trips to different regions within the Drakensberg range to conduct surveys of species of conservation concern, particularly those of high priority on the Red List. Citizen scientists assess the presence, absence and the population size of the target species. There are at least 106 floral species of conservation concern in KwaZulu-Natal listed on the Red List found on the Drakensberg escarpment such as Asclepias montevaga (rare), Athanasia grandiceps (rare) and Berkheya draco (rare). The importance of conservation is due to the species being distributed in critical habitats, such as Euryops brevipes (rare), and resultant lack of sampling. The biodiversity stewardship programmes have allowed the CREW programme to expand the area of observation to cover the greater Drakensberg regions to increase species monitoring. Areas with few records and requiring further surveys include the southern Drakensberg, Underberg, Monks Cowl, Sani Pass and Highmoor. The challenge faced by CREW is the lack of expert climbers to access these high-altitude species. In future, we look forward to building relationships with regular mountain climbers and investigating plant species richness and population density to construct suitable habitat models for species conservation.

14:00 - 15:30
Dining Room
Session 10: Threatened Species Conservation II
Format : Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Speakers
Craig Mulqueeny, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Adrian Armstrong, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Michelle Carpenter, University Of Cape Town, Marine Action Research (Mozambique)
Zwelakhe Zondi, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Pamela Sgatya, SANBI
Moderators
Gareth Tate, Endangered Wildlife Trust
Outcomes of CITES CoP18
14:00 - 14:15
Presented by :
Craig Mulqueeny, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

The 18th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES CoP18) was held in Geneva, Switzerland from 17 to 28 August 2019. Over the two-week period, a total of 57 proposals to amend the lists of species subject to CITES regulations submitted by 90 countries were considered, while a wide range of CITES implementation issues were also discussed. Overall, 46 proposals to amend the Appendices were adopted at CoP18, adding at least 93 new species to the CITES lists in Appendix I and Appendix II. The primary aim of CITES is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. Amendments to the CITES Appendices, as well as resolutions and decisions adopted at a CITES CoP can have major implications for a country’s ability to trade internationally in wildlife and their products (parts and derivatives), either through regulating trade or restricting trade through prohibitions. This presentation will highlight some of the more significant decisions taken at CITES CoP18 that have a direct or an indirect effect on South Africa, and will describe some of the implications of these decisions. For instance, a number of decisions taken at CITES CoP18 will affect African range states negatively by limiting these countries’ ability to trade in species and generate much-needed revenue that could be used for conservation purposes. Such decisions, which increasingly seem to be influenced by emotions, politics or animal rights philosophies rather than science, are difficult to accept by range states that have demonstrated conservation successes, especially in our current economic climate where resourcing of biodiversity conservation is becoming increasingly difficult. Unfortunately, inappropriate listing can further add to the financial burden of a country as listing of species comes with an implementation cost and can also impact negatively on local livelihoods. On the other hand, there were a few decisions, namely those relating to Aloe ferox and black rhinoceros that had a positive outcome for South Africa. The species that will be discussed will include Aloe ferox, African grey parrot (Psittacus erithacus), black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis), southern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum), giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis), African elephant (Loxodonta africana) and shortfin mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus).

Implementation of the Biodiversity Management Plan for Pickersgill’s reed frog (Hyperolius pickersgilli) – the second year
14:15 - 14:30
Presented by :
Adrian Armstrong, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Co-authors :
Jeanne Tarrant, Endangered Wildlife Trust
Ian DuPlessis, Johannesburg City Parks & Zoo
Antoinette Kotze, National Zoological Garden (NZG), South African National Biodiversity Institute

The Biodiversity Management Plan for Pickersgill's reed frog (Hyperolius pickersgilli) (BMP-PRF) was gazetted on 2 June 2017 with the aim of improving the conservation status of this endangered species. This presentation details what has been achieved during the second year of implementation of the BMP. Two more municipalities have included wetlands containing H. pickersgilli into their environmental planning or management systems. Seventy hectares of habitat are under a "Biodiversity Agreement" in the Adam's Mission area, with the aim of proclaiming the entire 500 ha wetland system as a protected area. One more H. pickersgilli sub-population has been found. A database of distribution records for H. pickersgilli is kept updated by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. Research led by the National Zoological Garden (NZG-SANBI) resulted in the publication of a scientific paper indicating that H. pickersgilli has a single genetic population. The captive-breeding of H. pickersgilli has reached F2 generation at Joburg Zoo. A detailed husbandry manual is near completion. A protocol that considers wild population sources for the parental frogs for captive breeding, diseases, simulation of natural environmental conditions in captivity, genetics, life-cycle stage for release, and choice of release sites was implemented. A total of 250 captive-bred H. pickersgilli have been released at Mount Moreland and River Horse Valley near Durban so far. Initial monitoring at Mount Moreland resulted in one released frog being sighted. Media coverage of the implementation of the BMP-PRF included more than 14 media outlets: television, online documentaries, social media and newspaper articles. More than 600 learners have done the Endangered Wildlife Trust's "Frogs in the Classroom" educational modules. Implementation of the BMP-PRF is mainly on track and the co-operative nature of the work has proved very fruitful in achieving the results so far.

CITES, cycads and cultivated crime: Tidying up the cycad trade in South Africa
14:30 - 14:45
Presented by :
Zwelakhe Zondi, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Co-authors :
Joy Khuzwayo, South African National Biodiversity Institute
Michele Pfab, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)

The illegal trade in cycads is one of the major contributors to the continuous decline of South Africa's wild cycad populations. In South Africa, cycads are poached from the wild to supply the demand from the local horticultural industry and the international market. Moreover, large plants, particularly female plants, are poached and laundered through cycad nurseries and used as parental stock. All indigenous cycad species are protected in South Africa under the Threatened or Protected Species (TOPS) regulations, and globally the species are included in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). According to Article III of the Convention, the export of Appendix I specimens for commercial purposes is prohibited. However, artificially propagated specimens can be traded as they are deemed to be specimens of Appendix II species. Importantly, this trade in artificially propagated cycads requires that parental plants are cultivated as defined in CITES Resolution Conf. 11.11 (Rev. CoP17). As of 2018, only CITES registered nurseries are allowed to export cycad seedlings from the country in accordance with the non-detriment findings of the Scientific Authority published for implementation in May 2016. Nurseries applying for CITES registration are being audited in line with a decision tree approved by the Scientific Authority. To date, 14 cycad nurseries across the country have been audited for compliance with these CITES registration requirements. Six of the nurseries have been recommended for CITES registration, one application has been rejected and, the remaining seven facilities are pending formal applications. Common compliance problems encountered in the nurseries were the presence of wild origin parental plants and non-indigenous cycad species that were never legally imported into South Africa. Parental stock was also absent in some nurseries. Non-compliant nurseries were most evident in the Eastern Cape.

Conserving and monitoring threatened medicinal plant species
14:45 - 15:00
Presented by :
Pamela Sgatya, SANBI

Plant species are threatened due to a number of environmental factors; protection measures need to be implemented in order to preserve these species. This can be done through monitoring and conserving the botanical species following the South African Strategy for Plant Conservation. A significant number of medicinal plants are considered to be at risk of extinction, therefore target 13 of South Africa's Strategy for Plant Conservation applies here. The target concentrates on indigenous knowledge and the execution of interviews to document their uses, in order to gain a better understanding of threats impacting botanical species diversity. Forty-four percent of the national flora collection has been compiled by CREW and of this 10.1% are medicinal plants, while 656 are traded. This trade is unsustainable as 19% of the 656 commonly traded plants are threatened with extinction. The Eastern Cape is one of the South African under-sampled provinces, yet it contains 166 medicinal species, many of which are facing threats due to scarcity, frequent and unsustainable trading, and harvesting in large quantities. Evidence shows that 67% of threatened species in South Africa are protected in reference to target seven (conservation of threatened species in situ). This indicates that conservation measures are being implemented for threatened species and should thus allow for easy monitoring of our species. However, more areas in the Eastern Cape need to be protected since there is clear evidence of unsustainable harvesting of medicinal plants.

Behavioural functions of cephalic fins in a population of reef manta rays, Mobula alfredi, in Závora, Mozambique
15:00 - 15:15
Presented by :
Michelle Carpenter, University Of Cape Town, Marine Action Research (Mozambique)
Co-authors :
Charles Griffiths, University Of Cape Town
Robert Perryman, Macquarie University
Andrea Marshall, Marine Megafauna Foundation
Nakia Cullain, Marine Action Research

The reef manta ray, Mobula alfredi, is an iconic, economically important species in Mozambique that faces a high risk of local extinction. Manta rays have the largest brain to body size ratio of all fish with evident intelligence in behaviours such as complex courting events and cooperative feeding. As mobulid rays, they possess cephalic fins; horn-like structures on the face which aid in filter-feeding and can be rolled up during swimming. However, manta rays use cephalic fins across several behaviours suggesting possible sensory, communicative, or mechanical functions. These structures are also impacted by unsustainable fishing methods such as ensnaring by gill netting and long lines. The focus of this study is to determine if manta rays use cephalic fins in response to biotic or abiotic stimuli unrelated to feeding. As one of the first behavioural studies ever conducted on in situ wild reef manta rays and the first of its kind in Mozambique, data is largely preliminary, to be expanded on in subsequent field seasons. Manned and remote videographic observations have been collected via SCUBA diving on a cleaning station for two field seasons, 2018 and 2019. Focal animal sampling was used to investigate and compare movements of cephalic fins in various settings. Videos include the presence or absence of humans, and single or multiple individuals during various cleaning, courting, and swimming states. A randomly selected 5-min interval from each video was processed in the BORIS software for frame by frame analysis. Anecdotal evidence suggests differences in the use of cephalic fins in social interactions with other individuals. Preliminary results convey a diverse range of motions suggesting that these structures play an even more complex role than previously known. Acquiring knowledge about the complexity of these charismatic animals will increase awareness and hopefully stimulate incentives for protection.

15:30 - 16:00
Main Deck, Foyer Area & Lower Deck
Afternoon Tea
16:00 - 17:30
Rholands Hall
Session 11: Mining Threats in Marine and Coastal Environments
Format : Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Speakers
Kirsten Youens, Youens Attorneys
Stan Kozlowski
Moderators
Fred Kockott, Roving Reporters
Marine Protected Areas and offshore oil and gas exploration: One step forward and five steps back?
16:00 - 16:30
Presented by :
Kirsten Youens, Youens Attorneys
Co-authors :
Adrian Pole, Adrian Pole Environmental Law

In 2018, South Africa declared twenty new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), increasing the total ocean area under protection to 5%. In addition to reducing risk from human impacts and affording damaged marine ecosystems an opportunity to recover, MPAs also provide climate change mitigation services. Despite increasing global concerns over the use of fossil fuels and their contribution to climate change, there has been a dramatic increase in offshore oil and gas exploration activities in South Africa’s oceans in recent years. In 2014, the South African government introduced Operation Phakisa (‘hurry up’), an initiative aimed at fast tracking critical development solutions and which sought to unlock the economic potential of South Africa’s oceans. Offshore oil and gas exploration was identified as a key focus area, with a vision that South Africa should create an environment that promotes exploration in order to drill up to 30 exploration wells within a decade. Despite a consultative process under Operation Phakisa identifying various policy conflicts and institutional and regulatory barriers, the regulation of offshore oil and gas exploration remains anchored in the Minerals & Petroleum Resources Act (MPRDA) and the National Environmental Management Act’s (NEMA) environmental impact assessment regime. The Department of Mineral Resources and the Petroleum Agency of South Africa are key institutions promoting offshore oil and gas exploration, while also granting exploration rights and processing environmental authorisations. Using practical case studies, this paper seeks to highlight some key policy conflicts and shortcomings in the legal regime applicable to offshore oil and gas exploration in South Africa. It is argued that some of the barriers identified by Operation Phakisa as needing to be resolved have not been yet been addressed, and that offshore oil and gas exploration is currently under-regulated. This raises the risk of such activities booming in the absence of adequate regulatory safeguards, aggravated by limited available knowledge regarding potential impacts on marine ecosystems.

Wild Walk: A revelation of a rugged sort
16:45 - 17:30
Presented by :
Stan Kozlowski
Co-authors :
Fred Kockott, Roving Reporters
Andrew Chin

Mother Nature put the brakes on a daring Wild Coast swim earlier this year, but the seed was planted for a unique environmental journalism initiative to promote marine conservation and eco-tourism as part of a broader bid to save a 22 km stretch of coastline earmarked for heavy minerals mining. This story started with a Facebook dare. Journalist, Fred Kockott, had just spent the weekend swimming all eight Midmar Miles in aid of marine conservation. On crossing the finishing line of the eighth race, his cellphone pinged with congratulatory messages. Then came a flippant challenge to swim an expanse of Wild Coast waters for a paltry sponsorship of 50c per kilometre. "R1 for the first shark," responded one Facebook friend. Undeterred, Kockott rose to the bait and put the word out to fellow ocean adventurers and charity swimmers to join him in swimming past the five proposed Xolobeni mining blocks - a hotly disputed coastal stretch where an Australian mining company has been pushing for the right to extract titanium from the ancient red sand dunes. The plan has cost lives, divided the community, and is now before the courts. United by the view that people living in the area should have the right to decide what happens to the land they live on, the Wild Swim set out to promote alternatives to mining and raise funds to promote community tourism initiatives in the area and train environmental watchdogs. With backing from the 8 Mile Club, which had raised R4,3 million for various charities at the 2019 aQuelle Midmar Mile, the venture soon assumed a life of its own. Internationally experienced open water swimmers signed up, anti-shark pods were sourced from Australia, a publicity machine ground into gear, and a well-supported fundraising drive began. It was a close-run thing, with a mad scramble to get the logistics and a comprehensive safety plan in place. This included safety divers and kayakers, a jet ski rescue operator, support boats, paramedics and a team doctor. But, on the eve of the swim, torrential floods put paid to all this. With rivers spilling their guts into the sea, the safety team declared it unsafe for anyone to venture into muddy and turbid waters - ideal feeding grounds for the much-feared bull shark. So the Wild Swimmers set out on foot. Over the next few days, they crisscrossed the five proposed mining blocks, surveyed flood-ravaged and flotsam-laden beaches and explored the estuaries of the Pondoland Marine Protected Area. Villagers opened their hearts and their homes to the team each night, providing hearty suppers and breakfasts, and a chance to chat intimately about their lives and the plight of the people who could face removal from the land to make way for mining. Travel, a metaphor for leaving the unknown and comfortable, had brought together a team of modern-day explorers, and what a diverse and interesting bunch they were: Buddhists and Christians, property landlords and penniless tenants and journalists, river guys and first-time hikers, missionaries and cynics. And so began a series of sponsored Wild Walks, enabling a cohort of marine biology students and aspirant environmental writers to explore the Wild Coast alongside locally trained guides and award winning conservationist, Sinegugu Zukulu.

16:00 - 17:30
Chapel
Session 12: Special Session: Innovative Technology and Data Management Practices for Conservation
Format : Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Speakers
Matthew Copley, EVS Systems (Pty) Ltd
Jeanne Tarrant, Endangered Wildlife Trust
Aaliyah Motala, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Pholoshi Abram Maake, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Jeffrey Manuel, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Moderators
Chanel Rampartab, CapeNature

The conservation sector can benefit from implementing applied technology and novel practices to augment conservation efforts. Concepts and case studies on innovation and data management will be presented by conservation agencies and the private sector, leading into a facilitated discussion and knowledge exchange.

The conservation sector is adapting to technological and conceptual innovations to improve conservation practice and outcomes. It follows logically that these innovations require improved, integrated and expanded data management strategies and protocols. This session aims to address:

  1. constraints and opportunities with current data collection and management methods
  2. emerging and maturing technological advances (from drones to multispectral image analysis, to deep-learning neural networks) that could be feasibly deployed to augment biodiversity conservation in the South African context
  3. recommended data management protocols to maintain the integrity of the resultant data generated, make it accessible to our partners and target our conservation efforts in the landscape.

Following the presentations from conservation agencies and the private sector, a facilitated discussion will allow the audience to share their respective ideas, experiences and knowledge, initiating a discussion about the way we collect, store, manage, access and share our data streams.

Vision systems for conservation
16:00 - 16:15
Presented by :
Matthew Copley, EVS Systems (Pty) Ltd
Co-authors :
Gavin Hough, EnviroVision Solutions
Sonja Krüger, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

Image processing is a powerful tool which, when correctly applied, can be used to track a variety of objects. At Envirovision Solutions (EVS), code has been developed in order to track a marine buoy to measure wave height. This sea state monitoring project where machine vision-based coastal buoy deployments use cameras to measure wave height and to separate groundswell from smaller surface waves has led to the development of other tracking solutions for measuring activity levels and flight paths. A project in development aims to use a device attached to the buoy in order to move from tracking only in daylight hours to tracking 24/7. Elements of the code are well suited to tracking bird flight as well as tracking movement of larger sea creatures. EVS will demonstrate the live video tracking of birds, buoys and other creatures, and how to convert pixel movement into real movement in centimetres and metres. These methods will be illustrated to show surfers, whales, dolphins and other marine animals moving through the water. Another area of interest is that of tracking the movement of birds, with a focus on the vulture conservation in the Drakensberg. Using a well-positioned camera, these methods can track vulture movements in and out of nests in order to more effectively employ already used conservation methods. Flight following using cameras as birds fly in and out of their nest, follow migration routes and fly past wind turbines can provide fascinating flight path trends which can help us understanding breading, feeding and flight path preferences.

Counting eggs: Contributions from citizen science towards amphibian conservation in South Africa
16:15 - 16:30
Presented by :
Jeanne Tarrant, Endangered Wildlife Trust
Co-authors :
Lizanne Roxburgh, Endangered Wildlife Trust
Cherise Acker-Cooper, The Endangered Wildlife Trust
Alison Faraday, ToadNUTS

Tackling the global amphibian extinction crisis requires that the amphibian conservation community makes use of all the tools available to us. With 40% of all amphibians now classified as threatened, and with limited resources to address the issues causing these declines, a cooperative, interdisciplinary approach is needed that enables the exchange of information across both academic and professional disciplines, as well as between diverse stakeholders and partners. This includes harnessing active participation in amphibian and habitat conservation through citizen science. One of the priorities under the global 'Amphibian Conservation Action Plan' is to coordinate efforts to synthesise and communicate findings from citizen science data back to the amphibian community. On the other hand, professional scientists need to facilitate citizen science data collection to strategically link it to desired conservation outcomes. The Endangered Wildlife Trust, has several amphibian-related projects that involve inputs from citizen science. These include monitoring and surveillance of the endangered Kloof frog, Natalobatrachus bonebergi, for which protocols have been refined, and new sites identified and added. A data set over six years for one site, Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve, provides valuable trend information for breeding activity. We are also collecting data for N. bonebergi and general frog occurrence records from Adams Mission, KwaZulu-Natal, where we are working towards formal habitat protection of 500 hectares of coastal wetland and swamp forest for this species, and its conjoiner, the endangered Pickersgill's reed frog, Hyperolius pickersgilli. Towards this end, we are also using citizen science to collect extensive data on ecological goods and services (EGS) to gauge long-term responses to habitat management and protection interventions. Twelve years of volunteer-based patrolling data collection of endangered western leopard toad, Scleophrys pantherina, across the Cape south peninsula has contributed to the knowledge of breeding patterns and helped inform conservation interventions.

iNaturalist: A wonderful tool for science communication between scientists and citizen scientists
16:30 - 16:45
Presented by :
Aaliyah Motala, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)

One of the most important aspects of science is communication. The best way to get messages out to the public is to include them in the process of acquiring information. With the advent of technology, the internet and especially mobile phones, it has become much easier to include citizen scientists in scientific research and contributions to information gathering and projects. iNaturalist provides such a tool; it is an internet-based medium in which scientists, nature enthusiasts and citizen scientists can interact, and share information and knowledge about biodiversity. It is essentially a social media platform where people can map and share observations, photographically, of flora, fauna, fungi, nests, tracks, etc. Biodiversity research is entering uncharted territory with more conservationists, biologists and biodiversity policymakers utilising such platforms as a data source to inform decision-making with regards to monitoring and reporting, e.g. South Africa's National Biodiversity Assessment (NBA) and IUCN Red Listing assessments. There are a wide array of projects available to assist with monitoring and data gathering, such as SANBI's South African Red List: Plants and Animals project, Alien (s Afr), Vegetation Types of South Africa and Scouts South Africa. iNaturalist brings two beneficial aspects to assist with this, linking field observation images with critical data such as trends and location, as well as having a public powered identification and expert validation system. iNaturalist is a great start to getting the public involved in environmental awareness and conservation while contributing significantly to data collection.

SANBI coordinating the development of policies for managing foundational animal work in South Africa
16:45 - 17:00
Presented by :
Pholoshi Abram Maake, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Co-authors :
Rethabile Motloung, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Thembile Khoza, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)

The lack of foundational information and taxonomic expertise is a serious barrier to sound management of biodiversity, improved decision-making in conservation, sustainable use decisions, and equitable sharing of the benefits derived from biodiversity. It is for this reason that the Convention of Biological Diversity instituted the Global Taxonomy Initiative as the main body to address lack of taxonomic information and expertise issues at the global level. In South Africa, SANBI coordinates foundational information and reports on the expertise required to provide such information for both fauna and flora. To this end, SANBI developed the National Strategy for Zoological Taxonomy 2013 - 2020 and Biosystematics Research Strategy for the Algae, Animals, Bacteria and Archaea, Fungi and Plants of South Africa 2013 - 2018. For animals, however, there are no policies guiding the compilation of foundational information, i.e. species page information (e-Fauna Project), taxonomic backbone (checklist) and expansion of information base (occurrence records). These policies are important as guidelines to promote consistency and provide points of reference in decision-making for the development and dissemination of foundational animal information. The Zoological Systematics division of SANBI, in collaboration with selected taxon expert groups, are embarking on developing the policies for the e-Fauna Project, creating and managing the animal taxonomic backbone and expansion of the South African animal information base.

Sharing data in the information age: Issues, opportunities and latest developments
17:00 - 17:15
Presented by :
Jeffrey Manuel, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)

As part of its mandate in terms of the Biodiversity Act, SANBI must maintain databases about biological diversity, as well as coordinate and disseminate biodiversity information. SANBI currently holds over 20 million biodiversity records, of which less than half are SANBI’s own records. SANBI is, therefore, a research institution, but also a research infrastructure/repository for the collation, storage and dissemination of biodiversity information prepared or generated by data providers. This data sharing has typically been protected by data-sharing agreements, but much of this preceded the internet age, and the data provider may not have intended for how data is being shared now. Additionally, data-sharing agreements were often bespoke, which also does not facilitate the automated manner in which data sharing happens now. Furthermore, data sharing historically does not account for the legal requirements in terms of Intellectual property rights, publicly financed research, or Protection of Personal Information (POPI). These all pose ‘legal’ issues that need contemporary, revised data-sharing agreements. On a more practical note, data-sharing has also happened with a specific use-case in mind. This meant that sharing data without provenance (the ‘story’ behind the data) was fine – the user knew what they were getting and what they wanted to use it for. In the era of big data, where hundreds of datasets are being ingested for analyses, provenance has become crucial. For more complex datasets or products (like conservation plans) this means technical reports, but in most cases it simply means metadata. A major cultural shift is required for data owners to compile and maintain metadata for their datasets, to facilitate data being used as widely as possible. Lastly, protection of intellectual property, data standards, data quality, licensing, and attribution and citation issues are also matters that need to be understood and agreed to when concluding data-sharing agreements. This talk will focus on the latest thinking and data sharing initiatives from SANBI.

16:00 - 17:30
Dining Room
Conservation Café
Format : Workshop
18:30 - 21:00
Rholands Hall
Film Evening at the Conservation Symposium - brought to you by NEWF

Our Oceans are in a state of crisis, and we're the ones responsible for it. A team of scientists, divers and photographers set out on a journey of discovery along one of the longest, and richest, coastlines in the world. Along the way, they unveil three incredible natural events to the world, whilst highlighting the impending threats, and all the while promoting the protection of our oceans.

The full-length version of Our Oceans will be screened in the Rholands Hall following a supper of gourmet burgers at the Boma. Noel Kok from NEWF will facilitate the evening which includes a panel discussion with four members of the team, Jamila Janna, Sandile Ntuli and Andrew Venter from WildOceans, and Tembisa Jordaan from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.

Wednesday, 06 Nov 2019
07:30 - 08:30
Main Deck, Foyer Area & Lower Deck
Registration
08:30 - 10:30
Rholands Hall
Session 13: Plenary: Wednesday
Format : Oral Presentations | Poster Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Speakers
Katie Gledhill, WildTrust - WildOceans
Ryan Daly, South African Association For Marine Biological Research
Brent Coverdale, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Paulette Bloomer, University Of Pretoria
Lukhanyiso Vumazonke, University Of Fort Hare
Sanele Dweba, University Of Fort Hare
Ayabulela Mrubata, University Of Fort Hare
Stuart Demmer, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Moderators
Santosh Bachoo, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

A global and local view on the status of sharks, CITES outcomes, and changes in policy to ensure their protection
08:45 - 09:10
Presented by :
Katie Gledhill, WildTrust - WildOceans
Refuges and risks for threatened sharks: Evaluating expanding Marine Protected Area boundaries and transboundary cooperation to improve conservation in the western Indian Ocean
09:10 - 09:35
Presented by :
Ryan Daly, South African Association For Marine Biological Research

Concurrently assessing the effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and evaluating the degree of risk posed from humans to mobile marine species provides valuable information that can be integrated into large spatial scale management planning. The aim of this study was to identify 'hotspots' of tiger shark habitat use in South Africa and Mozambique and quantify the spatial and temporal overlap of these core habitat use zones with old, new and proposed MPAs as well as risks from fishing and culling in the region. A total of 26 tiger sharks ranging between 257 and 411 cm total length were fitted with satellite tags between March 2013 and January 2016 in South Africa and Mozambique. Results showed that tiger sharks exhibited a spatial overlap of 5.12% with shark culling nets in South Africa and were more likely to interact with fisheries when undertaking open ocean migrations. MPAs and significant (90 – 99% confidence) tiger shark hotspots in South Africa and Mozambique currently exhibit a spatial overlap of 5.97% which increased significantly (p < 0.05) to 24.36% with the recent protected area expansion in South Africa and could be as high as 41.43% with a proposed protected area expansion in Mozambique. This highlights how current MPA boundaries in the region can be successfully expanded to incorporate an increased proportion of the core habitat of tiger sharks and emphasizes the importance of transboundary cooperation when designing effective protected area networks.

Vulture conservation with a purpose: Collective action for endangered species – the case of the National Vulture Working Group and Project Vulture
09:35 - 10:00
Presented by :
Brent Coverdale, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
FishBOL-SA: DNA barcoding of South African linefish
10:00 - 10:03
Presented by :
Paulette Bloomer, University Of Pretoria
Co-authors :
Petrus Pretorius, University Of Pretoria
Arrie Klopper, University Of Pretoria
Albertien Van Heerden, University Of Pretoria
Sean Fennessy, Oceanographic Research Institute
Bruce Mann, Oceanographic Research Institute
Gavin Gouws, South African Institute For Aquatic Biodiversity
Denham Parker, Department Of Agriculture, Forestry And Fisheries
Thierry Hoareau, University Of Pretoria

South African linefish represent an important natural resource for the country, but overexploitation is posing a threat to both the stocks and the communities relying on them. To ensure the sustainable use of this natural resource, management policies need to be improved and implemented. Good knowledge of species biodiversity is a prerequisite to any management policy and actions. Traditional taxonomy alone has shown some limits. The use of DNA barcoding can help to address the issue of rapid and reliable species identification, but it is critical to rely on a reference database built using the national collection. This may be accomplished following an integrated approach generating high-quality molecular data for a collection of voucher specimens identified by taxonomic experts. Using both the BOLD database and the sequencing of new specimens, we assembled such a reference database for 139 of the most common South African linefish species. We increased the number of reference DNA barcodes (i.e. reliable barcodes for 60% of the current priority species) and identified the targets for future barcoding projects. From the new database, we recognise possible misidentifications (such as in kingfish species), cryptic species (for example, two divergent lineages of sand tiger shark) and highlight areas for more research regarding sequence quality and the selection of different protein-coding genes. Many sampling and sequencing gaps remain, for example, there is no reliable barcode for our national fish, the galjoen. The present work opens new perspectives on the study of linefish biodiversity around South Africa and has implications for the management of these resources.

Microhabitat variability on the thermal studies of selected ectotherms associated with mangrove forests of Mngazana Estuary (Eastern Cape)
10:03 - 10:06
Presented by :
Lukhanyiso Vumazonke, University Of Fort Hare
Co-authors :
Godfrey Padare, South African Institute For Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB)
Sanele Dweba, University Of Fort Hare
Asandiswa Nonyukela, University Of Fort Hare

In South Africa, mangrove ecosystems are among the most vulnerable to global climate change. The diverse biological communities occupying mangroves will be affected by the increase in temperature and may have the potential to serve as early warning systems. Temperature is one of the most important variables influencing living organisms in intertidal zones, including mangroves. Thermal studies, including critical thermal maxima (CTMax) and thermal tolerance, were used to determine the upper thermal limits of common estuarine species associated with the mangrove system at Mngazana Estuary. Three common mangrove species were selected with each representing temperature of media within the mangrove environment of the model species. For water, the estuarine shrimp, Palaemon peringueyi; for air, the truncated mangrove snail, Cerithidae decollata; and on the ground, the salt marsh crab, Parasesarma catenatum were collected. After collection, animals were acclimated for 48 hrs at 20°C following the thermal history of the environment. For all experiments, each individual replicate was placed in a thermostatised bath and exposed to a constant rate of water temperature increase of 2°C.h-1. Performance (oxygen consumption; MO2), was determined only in snails. CTMax allowed ranking of these mangrove species in terms of the upper thermal limits as follows: P. peringueyi (33.8°C±1.96), C. decollata (39.6°C±2.76) and P. catenatum (36.9°C±2.62 in air and 37.8°C±2.46 in water). Considerable thermal tolerance was observed in snails, surviving temperatures over 45°C. Snails showed an increase in MO2 with increasing temperature, until 44°C, where a decline of the curve was observed. We discuss the importance of including the effect of microhabitat variability and behavioural thermoregulation when investigating the effect of climatic transition on the thermal physiology of intertidal species. Additionally, this study on these selected ectotherms occurring at the edge of mangrove distribution may further be useful to model the effects of climate change in these systems.

Intraspecific differences in critical thermal maxima of the salt marsh crab, Parasesarma catenatum, in Mngazana Estuary
10:06 - 10:09
Presented by :
Sanele Dweba, University Of Fort Hare
Co-authors :
Asandiswa Nonyukela, University Of Fort Hare
Lukhanyiso Vumazonke, University Of Fort Hare

Temperature is one of the most important variables influencing living organisms in intertidal zones, including salt marshes and mangroves. The thermal tolerance of the salt marsh crab, Parasesarma catenatum, inhabiting the intertidal zone of the subtropical, permanently open Mngazana Estuary was investigated. The upper thermal limits, tested using the critical thermal maximum (CTMax), were determined for juveniles, sub-adult, and adult P. catenatum. The salt marsh crab was observed to inhabit different microhabitats during different growth stages. The juveniles populate the pneumatophores of the white mangrove; sub-adults populate the sandbanks near the rushes, and the adults were generally submerged in the water. The study aimed at investigating the thermal tolerance of the crab in its different growth stages, in relation to the different microhabitats with different microclimates, which would then address how this species would be affected by the rise in temperature due to global climate change. Collected crabs were acclimated for 48 hrs at 20°C following the thermal history of their environment (along the intertidal zone) before determining the CTMax for each size class. Individual crabs were then placed in a thermostatised water bath and exposed to a constant rate of water temperature increase of 2°C.h-1. Animals were observed continuously until the endpoint was reached. Intraspecific differences were present in the water medium, with juveniles showing more resilience with a CTMax temperature of 40°C, followed by sub-adults with 37°C temperature and adults with 36°C. In the air, there was no intraspecific difference in the CTMax. The adults had a temperature of 34°C; sub-adults had a temperature of 33°C and juveniles had a temperature of 30.5°C. This upper thermal limit study on the salt marsh crab will contribute to a broader understanding of increased temperatures occurring at coastal wetlands, including salt marshes and mangrove forests.

Effect of salinity and temperature on the survival of the estuarine caridean shrimp Palaemon peringueyi along the south coast of South Africa
10:09 - 10:12
Presented by :
Ayabulela Mrubata, University Of Fort Hare
Co-authors :
Lukhanyiso Vumazonke, University Of Fort Hare

Temperature and salinity are the most important environmental factors that influence aquatic organisms. Salinity and temperature tolerance studies on the survival of the estuarine caridean shrimp, Palaemon peringueyi, from a warm-temperate Kariega Estuary were investigated. Firstly, density experiments of P. peringueyi were determined in salinity tolerance tests. An influence of appropriate densities (5, 10 and 15 individuals per litre) to the survival of adult shrimps (i.e. carapace length ≥ 9 mm) after 96 hr exposure was conducted. The highest survival (80%) was recorded for the density of five individuals. Individual instead of group exposures were used for salinity and temperature tolerance tests. A total of 15 shrimps were individually exposed for 96 hrs to a combination of three salinity treatments (25, 35 and 45) and three temperature treatments (15, 20 and 25). Before exposure, shrimps were first acclimatised to the experimental salinities by increasing/decreasing salinity by ≤5 units every 2 hours and increasing/decreasing temperature by ≤2 units every 2 hours. Palaemon peringueyi, being euryhaline, were able to tolerate most salinities and survival increased with increasing temperatures in all salinities, with highest survival (≥80%) recorded at 20 and 25°C. Additional studies on the CTMax were then conducted at salinities of 25 – 45 and acclimation temperatures ranging between 15 – 25°C. Results from these studies showed a significant increase in CTMax with increasing salinity at all acclimation temperatures. The results from these studies will shed more light on the potential impacts global warming may have on biodiversity and population stability of estuarine and coastal structures.

Can we identify the primary influencers of grassland secondary succession?
10:12 - 10:15
Presented by :
Stuart Demmer, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Co-authors :
Kevin Kirkman, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Michelle Tedder, University Of KwaZulu-Natal

Very few ancient grasslands remain and those that do exist, such as mesic South African grasslands, are very sensitive to human impacts. Human activities such as land-use changes which alter important maintaining processes in grasslands (i.e. fire, herbivory, belowground resource competition) dramatically shift grassland biodiversity and structure from their undisturbed state. These alterations reduce ecosystem stability and the ability to maintain the supply of multiple functions. Furthermore, these biologically homogeneous, secondary grassland states may persist for decades following human disturbances. To better understand grassland secondary successional processes following human disturbances DRAGNet (Disturbance and Resources Across Global Grasslands Network), a new globally replicated grassland experiment, is being initiated as an offshoot of the internationally successful Nutrient Network experiment. By initiating an experimental site of the DRAGNet experiment at the Ukulinga Research Farm we plan to contribute to both international and local understanding of aspects controlling grassland resistance and resilience to nutrient and physical disturbances. Specifically, this experiment will introduce physical disturbances through complete vegetation removal and tilling and manipulate belowground resource availability through fertilisation. We will monitor changes in species composition, biomass production and grassland reproductive capacity following these disturbances. Furthermore, we will use this experiment as an opportunity to investigate which ecologically and culturally important native plants are susceptible to these disturbances under greenhouse conditions. The outputs of this experiment will help us understand grassland responses to agricultural practices and better inform conservation and restoration efforts in the face of these global change phenomena.

10:30 - 11:00
Main Deck, Foyer Area & Lower Deck
Morning Tea
11:00 - 13:00
Rholands Hall
Session 14: Threatened Species Conservation III
Format : Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Speakers
Deon De Jager, University Of Pretoria
Yvette Ehlers Smith, Scientific Committee & Presenter, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Paulette Bloomer, University Of Pretoria
Cherise Acker-Cooper, The Endangered Wildlife Trust
Asandiswa Nonyukela, University Of Fort Hare
Thando Cebekhulu, SANBI
Moderators
Jeanetta Selier, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Identifying conservation units of common eland (Tragelaphus oryx) using genetic markers
11:00 - 11:15
Presented by :
Deon De Jager, University Of Pretoria
Co-authors :
Paulette Bloomer, University Of Pretoria
Bettine Jansen Van Vuuren, University Of Johannesburg
Ian Rushworth, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

Currently, three subspecies of common eland (Tragelaphus oryx) have been described, based predominantly on coat markings and distribution, although this delineation is not recognised by the IUCN. These subspecies are the Cape (T. o. oryx), Livingstone's (T. o. livingstonii) and East African (T. o. pattersonianus) eland. In South Africa, the Cape eland lineage may be under threat due to hybridisation with extra-limital, introduced Livingstone's eland populations on private land bordering protected areas. In the north of South Africa, there may be a natural contact zone between these subspecies. Thus far, mitochondrial DNA analyses failed to confirm the validity of Livingstone's eland. Our aim was to determine the genetic distinctiveness of the subspecies and to establish a baseline of the genetic diversity within and between lineages. Following this, the extent and potential impact of hybridisation can be investigated. We obtained a comprehensive set of Cape eland samples from throughout South Africa, as well as a few Livingstone's eland samples originally from Zimbabwe, although more extensive sampling is still underway. We tested 31 microsatellites and optimised a set of 15 markers for genotyping eland. Preliminary results showed significantly lower allelic richness in KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg eland (AR = 3.1, 95% CI = 2.5 – 3.4) compared to privately owned eland in South Africa (AR = 6.3, 95% CI = 5.3 – 7.3). However, no significant inbreeding was detected in the Drakensberg population (FIS = -0.01). By combining the microsatellite data with mitochondrial DNA sequences generated from samples in this study and publicly available sequences of all three subspecies across Africa, a robust analysis can be done to define evolutionarily significant or management units for common eland. This may consequently affect legislation regarding the human-mediated movement of eland throughout southern Africa and thus protect distinct lineages of the species.

Co-occurrence modelling highlights conservation implications for two competing spiral-horned antelope
11:15 - 11:30
Presented by :
Yvette Ehlers Smith, Scientific Committee & Presenter, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Co-authors :
David Ehlers Smith, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Tharmalingam Ramesh, S?lim Ali Centre For Ornithology And Natural History
Colleen Downs, University Of KwaZulu-Natal

Fencing of protected areas (PAs) has a myriad of management implications, including herbivore overpopulation, which may result in competitive exclusion. There has been conjecture that nyala (Tragelaphus angasii) may outcompete bushbuck (T. scriptus sylvaticus), the smaller of the two spiral-horned browsing antelopes (members of the Tragelaphine family) under poor management practices. Using camera-trap data, we assessed factors influencing spatio-temporal activity patterns and co-occurrence of both species within three PAs of the Maputaland Conservation Unit, South Africa. Bushbuck appeared to have gone locally extinct within one of our survey areas, likely because of competitive pressures and cascading effects. Our results indicated a segregation of activities; bushbuck was more nocturnal, particularly in areas with higher nyala occupancy. Nyala occupancy overall was higher than bushbuck. When comparing occupancies at the management level, bushbuck occupancy was higher than nyala within two survey areas: where nyala were modelled as present but populations were managed, and where leopard (Panthera pardus) populations were highest. Co-occurrence was most likely in these two survey areas, indicating a threshold of nyala occupancy up to which bushbuck were tolerant, and that nyala presence was important, particularly in conjunction with high leopard density. Where leopard density was low, the cascading effect was of high nyala occupancy, with subsequent competitive exclusion of bushbuck. Our results have critical management implications for PAs, including reserve carrying capacity, preserving native-species assemblages and habitat management. They provide evidence that nyala outcompete subordinate sympatric browsers when not effectively managed, particularly where the predation effects that influence population dynamics are limited.

A framework for conservation genetic management applied to bovid species
11:30 - 11:45
Presented by :
Paulette Bloomer, University Of Pretoria
Co-authors :
Deon De Jager, University Of Pretoria
Monique Swanepoel, University Of Pretoria
Arrie Klopper, University Of Pretoria

Due to anthropogenic and natural impacts many formerly widespread species now exist only as managed populations on private land and in isolated formally protected areas. This affects natural ecological and evolutionary processes. Managers need to mimic migration through translocations and the re-establishment of dispersal corridors between isolated areas. Due to changes in the distribution patterns of populations, subspecies and species, local adaptation is broken down due to outcrossing and outbreeding, or due to other changes in selection regimes. Varied management strategies across different conservation areas and on private lands further complicate the situation. Here we present a multi-dimensional framework of conservation genetic management guidelines based on the complex interaction between historical and current gene flow patterns. We apply the framework to African bovid species, of conservation concern in South Africa. In suni (Nesotragus moschatus), high levels of genetic differentiation define evolutionarily significant units that should not be mixed to prevent negative fitness consequences (outbreeding depression). Management units defined by limited ongoing gene flow should be managed independently until the scale of natural population connections can be identified. On a local scale, studying fine-scale relationships between individuals will enable genetic censuses and improves understanding of behavioural ecology in such elusive species. In contrast, Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer) populations currently experience lower levels of gene flow compared with historical connectivity and are therefore under threat of inbreeding and inbreeding depression. The latter negatively impacts the ability of populations to respond to environmental changes. These insights can be used by managers to identify the most feasible options for maintaining the short-term and long-term processes that ultimately contribute to species persistence.

A case study for restoration towards socio-ecological appreciation
11:45 - 12:00
Presented by :
Cherise Acker-Cooper, The Endangered Wildlife Trust
Co-authors :
Jeanne Tarrant, Endangered Wildlife Trust
Jiba Magwaza, The Endangered Wildlife Trust

Social cognitive theory suggests that in order to bring about change in society, an environment conducive to change is imperative. We investigated the link between social and ecological integrity through a comparative study of a semi-rural community and an urban transit camp community located within an industrial area. These communities are located in the vicinity of wetlands where the endangered Hyperolius pickersgilli (Pickersgill's reed frog) occurs. For our conservation interventions, we use this species as a flagship to initiate rehabilitation and habitat protection towards securing ecological integrity. As part of these initiatives, we conducted both wetland health assessments using the present ecological state assessment, and socio-ecological assessments using semi-structured interviews with local residents as a basis for measuring changes in the wetland system and community land engagement within these systems, respectively. The wetland in the semi-rural community has a wetland health score of 77% compared to the transit camp-located wetland with a health score of just 23%. The socio-ecological assessments reveal that 85% of the community members exhibited a better quality of life, citing peace and quiet as the main enjoyment factors, in the semi-rural community compared to just 17% in the transit camp. It was also observed that the community in the semi-rural environment made more use of their natural environment through farming and natural resource use than the transit camp. Based on these data, indications show that the enjoyment factor decreases as ecological health decreases. This study indicates that intact ecological infrastructure allows communities to utilise their environment more effectively which could foster a greater appreciation of the natural environment, providing a strong basis for ecological restoration towards the promotion of socio-ecological integrity.

The subtropical-temperate transition along the east coast of South Africa shapes the thermal physiology of the truncated mangrove snail, Cerithidea decollata
12:00 - 12:15
Presented by :
Asandiswa Nonyukela, University Of Fort Hare
Co-authors :
Lukhanyiso Vumazonke, University Of Fort Hare
Simone Baldanzi, Marine Energy Research And Innovative Centre

The east and south coasts of South Africa are characterised by a transition from subtropical to warm-temperate conditions. This transition in environmental temperatures may shape the physiological tolerance of ectothermic species inhabiting harsh environments, such as the intertidal zone. A subtropical (Mngazana Estuary) and warm-temperate (Knysna Estuary) population of the truncated mangrove snail, Cerithidea decollata, were selected to investigate thermal tolerance (LT50) and performance (oxygen consumption) across increasing and decreasing air temperatures (at a rate of 2°C/h) under controlled laboratory conditions. Animals from both populations showed a considerable thermal tolerance, surviving temperatures over 50°C. The thermal performance of the two populations under temperature change showed similar trends, with individuals from Mngazana Estuary displaying higher levels of metabolism than those from Knysna Estuary. Both thermal tolerance and performance in increasing/decreasing temperatures suggested that these snails show intraspecific differences in thermal physiology. We discuss the importance of including the effect of microhabitat variability and behavioural thermoregulation when investigating the effect of climatic transition on the thermal physiology of intertidal species. This would enhance our knowledge of the interactions between organisms and their environment, helping to evaluate the likelihood that a species can maintain itself in the changing landscape.

A review of the impact of anthropogenic activities on the status of three southern African antelope species, oribi (Ourebia ourebi ourebia), southern bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus sylvaticus) and blue duiker (Philantomba monticola)
12:15 - 12:30
Presented by :
Thando Cebekhulu, SANBI
Co-authors :
Monica Mwale, National Zoological Garden (NZG), South African National Biodiversity Institute
Jeanetta Selier, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Theresa Sethusa, SANBI (Pretoria Botanical Garden))

Anthropogenic activities have resulted in habitat loss and fragmentation posing a threat to wildlife populations. It is estimated that about 27% of the world's mammals are on the verge of extinction due to the ecological effects of these activities on population resilience. For example, fragmented habitats cause small 'islands' which restrict and disrupt animal connectivity across landscapes. This review reports on the effects of human activities on the survival and populations of three antelope species, southern bushbuck, blue duiker and oribi in the wild. The current status of the taxonomy, ecology and distribution, population genetics and current management practices is considered, in order to highlight ongoing threats to the three species in South Africa. We further assess the success of mitigation actions against the decline of these species population in the wild and identify suitable options for effective management. According to literature, oribi and blue duiker are more affected by human activities than southern bushbuck. This could be attributed to a wider distribution range of the southern bushbuck when compared to oribi and blue duiker. Blue duiker and southern bushbuck are reported to be the oldest lineages of their respective genera, with sub-species-level distinctions. The taxonomy of these species, however, is not completely resolved; the specific effects on unique populations or species, therefore, requires further investigation. Three mitigation actions against species decline, trophy hunting, captive breeding with an aim to re-introduce and translocation, are currently employed. The success of these conservation tools depends on extensive pre-implementation research and post-implementation monitoring.

11:00 - 13:00
Chapel
Session 15: Marine Conservation
Format : Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Speakers
Daisy Kotsedi, Department Of Environmental Affairs
Stacey Badenhorst, South African Association For Marine Biological Research
Wesley Dalton, University Of KwaZulu-Natal; Oceanographic Research Institute
Shanan Atkins, University Of The Witwatersrand
Khutso Ramalepe, South African Association For Marine Biological Research; University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Michelle Carpenter, University Of Cape Town, Marine Action Research (Mozambique)
Lauren De Vos, Science Writer And Editor, University Of Cape Town
Moderators
Rachel Kramer, WildTrust - WildOceans
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) expansion in South Africa
11:00 - 11:15
Presented by :
Daisy Kotsedi, Department Of Environmental Affairs
Co-authors :
Nqobile Hlophe, Department Of Environmental Affairs

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have become recognised as a handy instrument in the management of fisheries and conserving marine biodiversity resources. The conservation status of both ecologically and economically important species has been a matter needing attention. With the advancing technology, the footprint of existing and emerging ocean economic sectors is likely to increase, affecting marine ecosystems services. Considering that the marine environment also plays a significant role in regulating air quality, ocean acidification, influencing rainfall and mitigating climate change, ocean protection is thus a constituted requirement. The recent declaration of a network of 20 inshore and offshore MPAs is evidence of South Africa's commitment to not only conserving our marine area estate but also to sustainable development. The new network provides significant protection of offshore ecosystem types which host some of the country's unique marine biodiversity habitat. South Africa's marine area protection has shifted from 0.4% to 5.4% and makes provision for the protection of 90% of habitat types. Although the increase in South Africa's marine protection is a significant milestone, management of these MPAs remains an issue of concern. Despite the progress made as a result of efforts by MPA management authorities, MPA management reports have found that there are persistent management challenges. The additional 5% protection is anticipated to inherit these challenges. Management recommendations state that protected areas found to have no value to the protected areas estate of South Africa should lose their protected area status. Prior to addressing aspirations of reaching 10% coastal and marine protection by 2020, there ought to be interventions to address the current challenges such as increasing budgets and staff, developing an understanding and support for MPAs amongst key government departments, and the need to update management objectives and plans, as these have been identified as the main barriers to sound management.

A characteristic macrobenthic community within the recently proclaimed uThukela Marine Protected Area, South Africa
11:15 - 11:30
Presented by :
Stacey Badenhorst, South African Association For Marine Biological Research
Co-authors :
Fiona Mackay, South African Association For Marine Biological Research

Marine benthic habitats, and the organisms that reside there, are vulnerable to direct habitat destruction and indirect anthropogenic activities such as pollution or freshwater flow reduction to habitats that require coastal connectivity. To reduce threats to these and other important ecosystems, they should be conserved through the establishment of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). This study occurred within the uThukela Marine Protected Area, one of 20 new MPAs recently promulgated in the South African MPA network. This unique system is off the largest river on the east coast and its ecosystem attributes are significantly reliant on river outflow. The project aim is to contribute to the baseline information of this MPA through expanding our knowledge of the macrobenthic community and the abiotic factors influencing community distribution. Replicated benthic grab samples were collected along coast-perpendicular transects on the uThukela shelf, representing distance from shore and increasing depth. Numbers of taxa (identified to the lowest taxonomic level possible), abundances, and functional traits were noted. Multivariate analyses determined that uThukela shelf macroinvertebrates represent many different taxa but in low abundances. Communities are primarily distributed according to sediment grain sizes, and exhibit trait differences in the different sediment habitats. Polychaetes (mainly facultative detritivores) constitute 50% of the macrobenthic community abundance on the uThukela shelf, with crustaceans and molluscs also appearing in high abundances. These detritivores rely on organic matter and muddy substrates deposited on to the shelf by the uThukela river, but adaptive feeding behaviour allows dietary shifts when conditions do not favour optimal deposition. Macrobenthic communities are vital in the functional success of any marine ecosystem; particularly the uThukela system where previous studies have indicated macrobenthos as the most significant functional trophic compartment. These findings originate from recent samples collected prior to the protection of uThukela, thereby contributing to uThukela MPA baseline information.

Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV) assessment of demersal fish communities along the continental shelf of central KwaZulu-Natal: Providing support to marine spatial planning
11:30 - 11:45
Presented by :
Wesley Dalton, University Of KwaZulu-Natal; Oceanographic Research Institute
Co-authors :
Bruce Mann, Oceanographic Research Institute
Tamsyn Livingstone, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Sean Porter, Oceanographic Research Institute

The shallow water fish communities of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) have been well documented by underwater visual census studies using scuba diving, however, studies on deeper fish assemblages (those at depths greater than 30 m) on the KZN continental shelf have been largely restricted to trawl and line-fishing surveys. This study makes use of single-camera baited remote underwater video systems (mono-BRUVs) to provide an in situ examination of fish communities on sand, mixed reef and reef substrates between the depths of 35 and 100 m. The BRUV deployments formed part of the Biodiversity Surrogacy and Marine Spatial Solutions projects and provided species composition and relative abundance data for the fish communities. Based on physical characteristics, the KZN shelf was divided into several biozones for the Biodiversity Surrogacy project. The BRUV data forms one of the components that aim to determine if these are suitable proxies for patterns of biodiversity. This research also seeks to determine if substrate type and depth play a significant role in the distribution and composition of fish communities as part of the Marine Spatial Solutions project. From the 200 useable videos a total of 119 fish species were identified, down to species level where possible. Biozones, substrate type and depth were statistically analysed to determine if they had a significant effect on fish composition. This study has the potential to provide support for the newly implemented uThukela Banks Marine Protected Area (MPA) and the Aliwal Shoal MPA expansion; as well as to assist in future marine spatial planning efforts focused on the KZN shelf. Future BRUV studies could be conducted for similar study designs, as well as to examine the effectiveness of the implemented MPAs.

Mapping the human-wildlife conflict around shark nets
11:45 - 12:00
Presented by :
Shanan Atkins, University Of The Witwatersrand
Co-authors :
Mauricio Cantor, Universidade Federal De Santa Catarina
Geremy Cliff, KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board
Neville Pillay, University Of The Witwatersrand

Shark attacks and the programmes that aim to prevent them cause conflict between humans and wildlife on multiple levels. For example, in KwaZulu-Natal between 1940 – 1960, sharks injured or killed 44 people, impacting not only the victims but also the tourism industry that many rely on. Humans responded with a culling programme targeting 14 shark species to protect bathers. This programme also kills harmless species unintentionally. Many apex predators, sharks included, are endangered or vulnerable to extinction. Mapping such human-wildlife conflict is the first step to managing it. We explored the knowledge and attitudes of various (human) stakeholders, focusing on the institutions most closely involved. We conducted semi-structured interviews with ten representatives from KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board (Sharks Board), the uMhlathuze Municipality, the provincial department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA), and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (Ezemvelo). The Sharks Board and Ezemvelo representatives know that the shark nets are fishing for sharks, but the other stakeholders perceive the nets as barriers or do not know how they work. There is concurrence on the pros of shark nets in terms of the psychological reassurance they provide to bathers; the cons are described in various ways: loss of marine life, the indiscriminate nature of the nets, and the great operational expense. In terms of desired changes, many would remove the nets completely, the Sharks Board respondents would like to reduce bycatch, while others would "scale back" and "use them during summer only". Levels of trust of the Sharks Board were generally high: "they are the experts", "we use what they give us". The lack of knowledge of closely-involved stakeholders (not just the general public) suggests a clearer message is required. This, together with the high levels of trust, suggest that the Sharks Board rather than the stakeholders themselves could be a leverage point for change.

Complex habitats give rise to multiple species and biological traits of marine infauna of the KwaZulu-Natal shelf
12:00 - 12:15
Presented by :
Khutso Ramalepe, South African Association For Marine Biological Research; University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Co-authors :
Fiona Mackay, South African Association For Marine Biological Research

Although appearing uniform, marine soft sediments are structurally complex habitats to macrobenthic communities. Furthermore, the organisms themselves, enhance the complexity through activities such as bioturbation and burrowing. Previous studies focused on macrobenthic community structure, distribution, functional diversity and sediment distribution, but disregarded the relation between habitat types and inhabitants to these habitats, highlighting the need for a holistic spatial planning strategy focusing on biotopes - the association of various biota to different environments. This study is the first attempt to integrate biology, geology and the environment into a region-specific seafloor habitat classification on the east coast of South Africa. A range of sampling technologies and analysis techniques were used across a depth gradient of 40 – 230 m, at 43 stations on the KwaZulu-Natal shelf (KZN). A remotely operated vehicle (ROV) was used for video recordings of habitat type and fauna on the seafloor (epifauna), a drop-camera for still photography with a quadrat stand for quantified visual assessment of habitats, and sediment grab-sampling for sediment and infaunal (invertebrates within the sediment) assessment. Our findings showed that using visual methods only, limits the full ambit of soft sediment habitats accessible by macrobenthos, as they under-report biodiversity by only revealing epibenthic characteristics rather than the in-sediment habitat. In this area, these have proven to be significantly more diverse. Thus, it is important to integrate multiple methods for identifying and characterising the seafloor habitats of unconsolidated sediments, followed by validation with actual benthic community attributes. KZN shelf macrobenthic communities reflect a broad range of habitats and biotopes unique to the east coast of South Africa. This study provides baseline information for regional marine spatial planning and contributes to national conservation and assessment schemes such as the Marine National Biodiversity Assessment and Marine Protected Area networks within South Africa's Operation Phakisa framework.

Evidence of Závora Bay as a critical site for manta rays in Mozambique
12:15 - 12:30
Presented by :
Michelle Carpenter, University Of Cape Town, Marine Action Research (Mozambique)
Co-authors :
Charles Griffiths, University Of Cape Town
Nakia Cullain, Marine Action Research

The reef manta ray, Mobula alfredi, is an iconic and flagship species, generating substantial income to developing countries via ecotourism, thus supporting marine conservation. Mantas aggregate at specific locations for feeding and cleaning, often characterized by shallow depth and high fish abundance, making them attractive fishing areas. Despite their tourism value, reef manta populations are diminishing around the world due to directed fisheries, bycatch, and other anthropogenic impacts. Many of the pioneering studies on mantas were conducted in Tofo, Mozambique, which also reported a drastic sightings decline, up to 98% for the reef manta between 2003 – 2016. Závora, a small village 90 km south of Tofo, is home to a subpopulation of reef mantas which anecdotally has not shown such a steep decline. A 10-year dataset of unique ventral patterning was used for population assessment which identified 496 reef manta individuals in Závora. Of these, 60.7% (n = 301) were identified or resighted within 2016 – 2019. Our data also shows a relatively even sex ratio, whereby 43.95% were females, 46.97% were males and 9.07% could not be determined. This is contrary to several elasmobranch studies that display sexual segregation, except at mating grounds. Interestingly, 88.2% (n = 438) of individuals were first identified at one site, suggesting importance for courtship rituals and/or social aggregation. This is further supported by only 22 identified juvenile males, of which only 7 have been resighted. Závora is a remote location with one dive centre and infrequent tourism, therefore sampling effort is considerably low, but presents an opportunity for sustainable ecotourism. Our results highlight the urgency for protection of this critical site and should be drawn upon to inform management decisions in the future.

Candid (jump) camera: A photo assessment of the benthic macroinvertebrates of South Africa's largest bay
12:30 - 12:45
Presented by :
Lauren De Vos, Science Writer And Editor, University Of Cape Town
Co-authors :
Colin Attwood, University Of Cape Town
Anthony Bernard, South African Institute For Aquatic Biodiversity

Adequate management of benthic marine communities requires information on their distribution. However, repeat sampling of the seafloor is logistically taxing. Non-destructive, rapid biodiversity assessment methods are needed to detect broad-scale patterns and monitor change. False Bay is South Africa's largest true bay, and changes in coastal land cover, with increasing pressure on marine resources, make it an important site for monitoring. This study sampled the seafloor with photographs taken using a novel "jump camera" rig, and multibeam sonar. Two new classifications were applied to describe the seafloor and its biota. The Collaborative and Automated Tools for Analysis of Marine Imagery (CATAMI) scheme, specific to camera-based sampling, captured accurate broad-scale seafloor descriptions. The "jump camera" documents ecosystem-level biodiversity patterns and processes. Eighty-nine species were recorded, and the random point count method in Coral Point Count (CPCe) was useful to assess community composition and cover on reefs, but not on sand. R?nyi diversity showed that species diversity increased in shallow waters up to 40 m, reaching a peak between 30 - 40 m, before decreasing with increasing depth. Species diversity was highest in the east, where seafloor heterogeneity was also highest. This is important for future monitoring in False Bay, where regions of highest benthic macroinvertebrate diversity are outside the current marine protected area (MPA) network and have been under-represented in previous surveys. Depth explained more community composition variation than seafloor roughness or slope (BIOENV, ? = 0.001). The study confirmed patterns found elsewhere on South Africa's coast, that depth and habitat structure epibenthic communities, and may provide useful delineators for conservation planning and monitoring. The jump camera method greatly extended the coverage of samples achieved by a single surveyor, which is useful for rapid biodiversity assessments and monitoring where resources are low.

11:00 - 13:00
Dining Room
Session 16: Special Session: Vulture Conservation in the 21st Century - What Will it Take to Save Africa's Vultures?
Format : Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Speakers
Lindy Thompson, Endangered Wildlife Trust
Brent Coverdale, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Gareth Tate, Endangered Wildlife Trust
Kerri Wolter, VulPro NPC
Sam Manqele, University Of KwaZulu-Natal / South African National Biodiversity Institute
Linda Van Den Heever, BirdLife South Africa
Moderators
Sonja Krüger, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

Challenges, opportunities and successful interventions relating to the conservation of Africa's vulture species will be presented focussing on both the ecological and social perspective, with a facilitated discussion ensuring further direct conservation intervention.

Vulture conservation has undergone a number of changes in the preceding decades. Populations are still declining under a continued threat from a myriad of anthropogenic factors, conservation resources are becoming increasingly scarce, and vultures are competing for conservation space with other iconic species, all this despite an increase in the understanding of many of the species' biological requirements. Various conservation actions, including the adoption of the Multi-Species Action Plan for Vultures, the establishment of a national Vulture Working Group in South Africa, and an ever-increasing flow of data, are all aimed at stemming this decline. The plight of Africa's vultures does, however, rely on successful partnerships and this session is aimed at bringing together the various role-players to forge a common understanding and focus.

This session will present perspectives from conservation agencies, conservation NGO's and researchers on the current status of vultures within Africa, the challenges facing the species and the interventions identified to stem the decline. Presentations will be followed by a facilitated discussion on the solutions and way forward.

A review of vulture conservation in South Africa: the role of the EWT's Birds of Prey Programme
11:00 - 11:15
Presented by :
Lindy Thompson, Endangered Wildlife Trust
Co-authors :
Ronelle Visagie, EWT
John Davies, EWT
Gareth Tate, Endangered Wildlife Trust

African vultures are facing a real, imminent risk of extinction, having declined by over 80% in just three generations. The Endangered Wildlife Trust's Birds of Prey Programme is working throughout South Africa to help conserve these ecologically important birds. Our team monitors the breeding success of over 100 hooded vulture nests, and over 500 white-backed vulture nests each year. Vulture wing-tagging efforts across the country have grown our resightings database to in excess of 80,000 records, representing a valuable resource for studying vulture movements and mortality. Our collaborative Vulture Safe Zone project aims to safeguard breeding vulture populations. To this end, we have facilitated the establishment of supplementary feeding sites, in areas where the various local threats to vultures have been removed. These include unsafe farm reservoirs, provision of meat containing fragments from lead ammunition and/or other poisons, etc. Our Poisoning Intervention Training programme is affecting real change in wildlife poisoning hotspots, by reducing projected declines of vulture populations. We are also implementing a diverse range of environmental education activities, including working with artists to convey conservation messages across language barriers through art. We achieve our conservation goals through collaborations with various local and international partners and students. The challenges and issues we face in South Africa as vulture conservationists are dire, but also present opportunities to find creative solutions, to strengthen relationships, and safeguard the future of our vultures.

Bearded Vulture Breeding programme - where science meets reality
11:15 - 11:30
Presented by :
Brent Coverdale, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Co-authors :
Sonja Krüger, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

The approved biodiversity management plan for bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) in South Africa identified the need to establish a captive breeding programme for the species. In 2015, the Bearded Vulture Breeding programme was established with the aim of establishing a captive flock through the harvesting of second eggs from the wild. Five years later and the realities of establishing such a programme have proven to be more complicated than initially expected. Unpredictable weather conditions, inaccessible nesting sites and the prohibitive costs in accessing such sites, a small window of opportunity for harvesting, limited resources, challenging monitoring parameters and, more recently, a higher proportion of infertile second eggs have highlighted that the gap between science and reality is at times rather large. However, the need for a captive population still exists and we review the challenges to date and explore the mechanisms needed in moving this project beyond 2025.

Rehabilitation and release success of an African vulture conservation programme
11:30 - 11:45
Presented by :
Kerri Wolter, VulPro NPC

The African continent is in the midst of an 'African Vulture Crisis' due to a number of anthropogenic factors. Threats include intentional and unintentional poisoning, power line electrocutions, power line collisions, habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation, as well as a decline in food availability and the illegal trade of vulture parts for belief-based uses. Thus the rehabilitation of injured wild birds has become a necessary tool to assist in the survival of wild populations, although the effectiveness of rehabilitation is often questioned. VulPro has released a total of 296 rehabilitated vultures back into the wild since its inception in 2007; including the critically endangered African white-backed vulture (Gyps africanus), endangered Cape vulture (G. coprotheres) and endangered lappet-faced vulture (Torgos traceliotus). An analysis of the causes of injury found that the highest successful release rates for vultures admitted were attributed to adverse weather conditions (80.0%), birds being grounded and dehydrated (64.4%) and poison incidents (58.2%). Injuries due to power line collisions and electrocutions had the lowest percentages of successfully released vultures. The release rate for the first quarter of 2019 stands at 40% from 45 admissions with an increasing trend, whereas the 2018 release rate was 65% from 103 admissions. This is to be expected as many of these admissions have been from adverse weather conditions. Previous studies found an annual survival rate of 74.8% for rehabilitated Cape vultures based on the modelling of resightings data. However, these studies were unable to include the impact of injury type which is what this study aims to address. Understanding the impacts and the nature of threats to vultures helps us to priorities the mitigation of threats but also, structure resources and efforts effectively and efficiently which give the best possible outcome for a successful release.

Addressing the vulture poisoning epidemic in South Africa: The Endangered Wildlife Trust's wildlife poisoning response training, prevention and interventions
11:45 - 12:00
Presented by :
Gareth Tate, Endangered Wildlife Trust
Co-authors :
Andre Botha, Endangered Wildlife Trust

We are experiencing an African vulture crisis. Over the last decade, the IUCN uplisted seven of the continent's 11 vulture species to Critically Endangered and Endangered. Within southern Africa, vultures have suffered rapid population declines of up to 80% over the last decade. Although threats such as habitat loss and electrocutions on powerlines are drivers, their decline is largely due to direct (deliberate) and indirect (unintentional) poisoning. In response to the vulture poisoning epidemic, the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) has been engaged in wildlife poisoning response and prevention training throughout southern- and east Africa since 2014. The training is aimed at improving key stakeholders capacity to effectively respond to, manage and coordinate poisoning incidents involving vultures and other wildlife. The work is centred on upskilling law enforcement officers, such as the South African Police Service (SAPS), anti-poaching units, field rangers, conservation authorities, and veterinarians, as well as communities, farmers and traditional healers, with a focus on poisoning scene management and decontamination, and provides guidance on first aid care for poisoned wildlife - which effectively reduces further wildlife losses. Our work also aims to enhance poisoning-crime scene investigation - resulting in an improvement in law enforcement and prosecution success for incidents related to the selling and use of poisons to kill wildlife - as well as the issuing of sentences that are more punitive by the judiciary, ensuring a greater reluctance to use poisons for killing wildlife. Additionally, we address unintentional, or secondary, poisoning by educating farmers and landowners about the risks of using poisons to illegally control so-called 'pest' species, most notably mammalian carnivores, and creating awareness among consumers about the risks of consuming poisoned wildlife products. Here we review the last five years of our poisoning response training, unpacking the challenges, achievements, and importance of this conservation action. We also discuss the drivers, extent and current trends of poisoning throughout South Africa and the innovative conservation interventions needed to combat wildlife poisoning to ensure the viability of future vulture populations.

A review of vulture wing anatomy and safe propatagial tag application methods, with case studies of injured vultures
12:00 - 12:15
Presented by :
Kerri Wolter, VulPro NPC

Propatagial tags are marking techniques that have been used across the globe on many bird species for ornithological research and conservation programmes. This marking method is a critical component in these programmes, but evidence suggests that they have negative effects on behaviour, reproduction and survival. Several vultures (n = 8) were recovered in South Africa with improperly placed propatagial tags between 2010 and 2018, requiring the removal of the tags and the rehabilitation of the injured/damaged bird. We review the critical elements in vulture wing anatomy with photographs of a Cape vulture (Gyps coprotheres) cadaver wing. The only safe placement for propatagial tags lies within a triangular 10 cm x 8 cm x 5 cm area in the propatagium. We provide measurement guidelines for tag placement in reference to key points in the wing as well as photographs and descriptions from case studies of improper (n = 5) and proper (n = 1) tag placement. We illuminate the importance of understanding wing anatomy and proper tag placement before undertaking this invasive procedure, to reduce the likelihood of tag-related injuries and mortalities in these imperilled species.

Assessing some aspects of traditional healing and the use of vultures in traditional medicine in KwaZulu-Natal: Study aim and preliminary findings
12:15 - 12:30
Presented by :
Sam Manqele, University Of KwaZulu-Natal / South African National Biodiversity Institute
Co-authors :
Jeanetta Selier, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Colleen Downs, University Of KwaZulu-Natal

The guild of practices and therapies adopted by indigenous people to prevent, treat and dispel diseases and spiritual ills is known as Traditional or Folk Medicine (TM). Traditional Medicine is an integral component of many indigenous people's belief systems. It is multifunctional, involving the healing of physical ailments ranging from snake bites to rheumatism, while also serving spiritual and emotional needs. Traditional Medicine is often affordable, culturally acceptable, and accessible, especially, to remote rural marginalised communities. The World Health Organisation recognises TM as a significant contributor to global human health goals. However, plant and animal resources used in traditional remedies are often sourced from the wild, on an unsustainable basis. As a result, TM represents one of the global leading causes of wildlife declines. African vulture populations have decreased by 60 - 80% over the past two decades with 29% of mortalities attributed to TM use. Nonetheless, this practice remains poorly understood and this affects the capacity to devise effective vulture conservation strategies. As part of a broader project, this study aims to assess some aspects of traditional healing and the use of vultures in TM in KwaZulu-Natal, through in-depth interviews with traditional health practitioners (THP) and visits to muthi markets across the province. The study has thus far found that the use of TM in the province is increasing. Vultures represent an important ingredient in various remedies. The head, brains and feet are the most valued parts. Vulture parts are used to treat persistent headaches, grow businesses, and strengthen relationships, clairvoyance and good fortune. Crows may substitute vultures in certain uses, especially since vultures have become challenging to find, which is corroborated by the price of a single vulture which ranges from R1,500 - R3,000. Involving THP in vulture conservation efforts is likely to result in positive outcomes.

Implementing Vulture Safe Zones in southern Africa
12:30 - 12:45
Presented by :
Linda Van Den Heever, BirdLife South Africa
Co-authors :
Robin Colyn, BirdLife South Africa
Hanneline Smit-Robinson, BirdLife South Africa

BirdLife International successfully introduced the concept of Vulture Safe Zones in Asia. In India, the Bombay Natural History Society has reported stabilisation of the vulture populations in the designated Vulture Safe Zones of two states and an increase in the population of another zone in recent years. As the reasons for the decline in vultures in Africa are more varied than those responsible for the Asian vulture crisis, the application of Vulture Safe Zones should be adapted to reflect this complexity. The establishment of a Vulture Safe Zone requests the owners of large tracts of land to commit to managing their properties in ways that will provide safe havens for existing vulture populations. This focus on sound environmental practices could provide the landowner with reputational and economic benefits. Vulture Safe Zones have been implemented in Africa and could offer conservation solutions that are effective and achievable at a grassroots level. BirdWatch Zambia is working to secure 4,000 hectares of the Chisamba Important Bird and Biodiversity Area for the benefit of vultures and the ecosystem. BirdLife South Africa has taken the first steps in southern Africa to secure Vulture Safe Zones. Through a strategic approach, we 1) defined this new concept in the South African context, 2) have undertaken a scientifically-based study to determine where Vulture Safe Zones would be best placed employing ecological niche modelling and a habitat remote sensing toolkit for breeding white-backed vultures across their distribution in South Africa based on the analyses of large sets of point locality, tracking and nesting data, and 3) enrolled this long-term project on one of South Africa's largest conservation properties, Tswalu Kalahari Private Game Reserve, as well as the 120,000 ha Zululand Important Bird Area.

13:00 - 14:00
Marquee
Lunch
14:00 - 15:30
Rholands Hall
Session 17: Special Session: Feedback, Reflections, and Learnings from Developing a National Elephant Conservation Strategy
Format : Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Speakers
Jeanetta Selier, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Johan Kruger, LEDET
Pete Ruinard, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Rob Slotow, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Moderators
Rob Slotow, University Of KwaZulu-Natal

The justification and role of a National Elephant Conservation Strategy, the process followed, feedback from stakeholder engagements to date, as well as some reflections on the process, will be presented from the perspective of the steering committee members, followed by a facilitated discussion on the way forward and further inputs from the stakeholders and participants attending the session.

Both through its global status, as well as its conservation dependence and current poaching threats, the African elephant warrants special attention. Currently, within South Africa, the management of elephants is informed by the Norms and Standards for the Management of Elephants in South Africa, published in 2008. These norms and standards provide a 'how-to' tool for the management of elephants, but do not define a national common vision or goal for elephant conservation, neither do they provide a broader understanding of the role of elephants in society, beyond the current focus on managing elephants as a species.

This session will start with a presentation on how the National Elephant Conservation Strategy has emerged from a number of different contexts, and how we envisage the strategy to be useful in practice. This will be followed by a presentation on the process to date, highlighting the importance of a different consultation process, and the costs, benefits, and risks, of how we have approached the strategy development process. We will then provide some feedback on what elephants mean to people - key information, views, values, visions, and aspects that have emerged from the different stakeholders. The final presentation will provide a holistic summation of the process and outcomes across all elements, including gaps and opportunities. This will be followed by a facilitated discussion on the way forward and further input from stakeholder and participants attending the session.

Towards a National Elephant Conservation Strategy for South Africa
14:00 - 14:15
Presented by :
Jeanetta Selier, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Co-authors :
Rob Slotow, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Antoinette Van De Water, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Johan Kruger, LEDET
Pete Ruinard, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Humbu Mafumo, DEA
Sam Ferreira, SANParks

Since the gazetting of the National Norms and Standards for the Management of Elephants in South Africa in 2008, its implementation has faced several challenges. African elephant (Loxodonta africana) numbers have increased in South Africa by more than 30%, landscapes and their use by people and elephants have changed, and socio-political expectations have evolved. A number of government stakeholder engagement processes, such as the revision of the Elephant Norms and Standards and the National Biodiversity Research and Evidence Strategy (NBRES) Indaba discussion, identified several areas not covered by the regulatory nature of the norms. These issues require a consolidated and coordinated national approach, which is focused and efficient, that enhances elephant conservation, but that also contributes to the well-being of South Africans. In other words, there is a need to develop a National Elephant Conservation Strategy, which would have a different purpose from the norms and standards, and the existing Elephant Research Strategy, which was published in 2014. The development of an effective national elephant conservation strategy will be done through defining a common vision, goals, risks, and outline how to best achieve these goals and will promote evidence-based conservation and management of elephants. This strategy will also enhance and leverage the potential economic value that elephants contribute to all South Africans. Moving from a single species conservation approach to a broader contextualisation of the role of elephants for society will promote more effective and robust planning and management decision-making, and highlight what this means for sustainable human beneficiation from elephants and their ecosystems. In other words, mainstreaming the benefits from a national elephant herd for social development, and contributing to achieving the goals of the National Development Plan and Global Sustainable Development Goals.

Towards a National Elephant Conservation Strategy for South Africa - the importance of a different consultation process
14:15 - 14:30
Presented by :
Johan Kruger, LEDET

An effective National Elephant Conservation Strategy for South Africa requires a common vision and goals, set within a risk framework that includes the views, expectations and concerns of all stakeholders. Our traditional understanding of who is and who is not included as stakeholders when dealing with elephant issues in South Africa is partly to blame for the challenges we are facing today when attempting to develop a national elephant conservation strategy. A different consultation process is, therefore, required to ensure that the views, expectations and concerns of all stakeholders are sourced in such a way that nothing is prescribed to stakeholders as to how they should think or engage with issues important to them as individuals or groups. People living with elephants, and who endure the consequences of living amongst elephants, were often neglected as stakeholders. This consultation process envisages correcting this. Within the stakeholder component, there is a gradient between those severely affected by the consequences of living in close proximity to elephants, and those never directly impacted by elephants. During the consultation process, this gradient will be considered continuously. Consultation with key stakeholder groups, such as conservation managers, communal landowners, scientists, hunters, non-governmental organisations and government, is essential to extract issues relevant to such groups without one group clouding the issues of another. With this different consultation approach, it is expected that a national elephant conservation strategy will truly be representative of the views, expectations and concerns of all stakeholders relative to their importance within the stakeholder community.

Communal game reserve owners perspective on the value of elephant in KwaZulu-Natal
14:30 - 14:45
Presented by :
Pete Ruinard, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

Through the development of a National Elephant Management Strategy, the understanding of the value of elephant in different stakeholder groups has come to the fore. A process has been undertaken within KwaZulu-Natal where special attention was placed on the value that representatives of communally-owned game reserves in the province have in terms of elephants. As the landscape of protected area ownership shifts away from strictly state or private ownership, these perspectives become very important both in terms of strategy but also actual ownership and management of elephant in these areas. For many years, in fact up to now, this sector of landowners has not been engaged in these issues and this is a groundbreaking attempt to get their valuable and potentially unique input and perspective on a question never asked before. The engagement process ensured that there was sufficient understanding of the background as well as the very divergent opinions and feelings that many people have of this iconic animal both in South Africa and elsewhere, as well as the realisation of how the various management avenues open to South Africans in terms of actual management options can be implemented and influenced, but, at the same time, tried to draw out the unique associations that these communal landowners and the broader communities they represent, have with elephant in KwaZulu-Natal.

What do elephants mean to people?
14:45 - 15:15
Presented by :
Rob Slotow, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Co-authors :
Jeanetta Selier, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Antoinette Van De Water, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Johan Kruger, LEDET
Pete Ruinard, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Humbu Mafumo, DEA
Sam Ferreira, SANParks

For conservation to succeed, the strategies, plans, and implementation thereof need a mandated vision from society as to what the intentions of conservation in that context are. To develop a National Elephant Conservation Strategy, we highlighted the need for bottom-up consultation, ensuring that voices closest to elephant management were heard. A series of workshops, which are still ongoing, provided inputs for us to use to consolidate an understanding of what elephants mean to people, or, alternately, what the role of elephants in society is. The views and inputs from the consultations are reported here. Firstly, we gained an understanding of the circumstances for the conservation of elephants under the sections: benefits of elephants to humans, risks of housing elephants, costs of housing elephants, and key approaches to managing elephants. Following from that, participants provided insights into a potential National Elephant Conservation Strategy, including elements for a collective vision, the attributes to include, risks to mitigate, and key considerations for the strategy to assess. We present a synthesis of the benefits, the threats, and how people believe we should invest our resources, and how our support and regulatory mechanisms should be framed for enhancing success. Besides improving our understanding of required biodiversity/ecological attributes, consultations highlighted the under-representation of social and societal components in practice to date, and emphasise the importance of framing those correctly, with the correct weighting, in order to ensure social resilience, and societal sustainability, for any conservation strategy for elephants, and the land on which they roam, to be successful.

14:00 - 15:30
Chapel
Session 18: Marine and Estuarine Conservation
Format : Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Speakers
Lauren De Vos, Science Writer And Editor, University Of Cape Town
Shanan Atkins, University Of The Witwatersrand
Merrisa Naidoo, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
BE Kelbe, UniZul & HR&TScc
Thabisa Mavubengwana, University Of Fort Hare
Do we understand urban underwater ecosystems? An assessment of the fish in South Africa's largest bay
14:00 - 14:15
Presented by :
Lauren De Vos, Science Writer And Editor, University Of Cape Town
Co-authors :
Colin Attwood, University Of Cape Town
Anthony Bernard, South African Institute For Aquatic Biodiversity

The influence of marine landscape composition on demersal fish requires testing, especially where the extent of habitat heterogeneity and its effect on community composition is poorly understood. False Bay has a long history of fishing activity, and standardised, repeatable methods are needed to monitor fish populations at an ecosystem level. Fish relative abundance and distribution were assessed using baited remote underwater video systems (BRUVs). Fifty-seven species from 30 families were recorded between 4 and 84 m, of which 15 species were of conservation concern. Habitat (reef and sand), depth, season and the Collaborative and Automated Tools for Analysis of Marine Imagery (CATAMI) habitat description explained most of the variation in community composition. The Shannon-Wiener diversity index (H') was higher on reef than on sand at the site level (t = 1.972, p < 0.0001), but overall species richness for False Bay was similar for both habitats. Forty-three species were recorded specifically on sand. These included several batoids that are typically inadequately identified in fisheries catch data. These findings highlight the difficulty in protecting sufficient sand habitat to encompass the patchy distribution of sand-associated species and provide a framework for future monitoring that considers seasonal differences in optimal visibility for camera surveys. Research in South Africa has typically focused BRUVs on reefs; we demonstrate their usefulness to detect sand-associated species' patterns. This is especially true where soft sediments are not homogenous, and where species do not strictly associate with either reef or sand. Considering that 10 sand-associated species, most notably several chondrichthyans that are important to fisheries, were of conservation concern in the region, future monitoring should consider areas that currently fall outside the protected area network in False Bay.

Changing gears: Reducing the impact of shark culling programmes
14:15 - 14:30
Presented by :
Shanan Atkins, University Of The Witwatersrand
Co-authors :
Mauricio Cantor, Universidade Federal De Santa Catarina
Geremy Cliff, KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board
David Guyomard, Centre De Ressources Et D'Appui Pour La Réduction Du Risque Requin
Michael Hoarau, Centre De Ressources Et D'Appui Pour La Réduction Du Risque Requin
Neville Pillay, University Of The Witwatersrand

A spate of shark attacks traumatised KwaZulu-Natal's locals and visitors alike in the 1940s and 1950s, and the reaction was the initiation of a shark culling programme. Gillnets were set to catch and kill sharks, anchored behind the backline 24 hours per day, seven days per week. The number of beaches with gillnets grew until a peak in the 1990s with 44 km of nets at 46 beaches, targeting fourteen species of sharks. In addition, since the onset of this programme, numerous species of other harmless animals have been caught unintentionally. Concern about the environmental impact of indiscriminately killing marine megafauna resulted in multiple actions over the past two decades: 1) a decrease in the number of gillnets, 2) removal of gillnets during the sardine run, and 3) the replacement of many nets with baited hooks. Beginning in 2011, a spate of shark attacks occurred off the Indian Ocean island of Reunion and the reaction was also to initiate a culling programme, but with important differences. The Reunionese programme is very specific, targeting only two shark species. They do not use gillnets. The baited hooks they use are set for very short periods (two hours for bottom set lines) or have SMART (Shark Management Alert in Real Time) technology which alerts the local crew, who launch to inspect the catch, allowing them to release 80% of the non-target species alive. Further, a variety of additional, non-lethal methods of protecting bathers are being used or being tested. In six years, the risk of shark attack has diminished but not disappeared. By comparing the two operations in detail, we identify ways in which impacts on marine megafauna can be further reduced. We propose a framework for best practice when protecting bathers.

Microplastic pollution in the Knysna Estuary: Occurrence in syngnathids and juvenile fish
14:30 - 14:45
Presented by :
Merrisa Naidoo, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Co-authors :
Louw Claassens, Knysna Basin Project
David Glassom, University Of KwaZulu-Natal

Microplastics are micro-sized plastic particles ( < 5 mm) that originate from the manufacture of small plastic items or fragmentation of larger plastic items. Recently microplastics have been recognized as a significant problem in the marine environment. However, data on the effects of microplastic particles in estuarine environments in South Africa is lacking. Estuaries represent cardinal point sources from which coastal marine microplastic pollution emanates. The distribution of microplastics within any marine system is variable where particles either accumulate at the water surface, sink to the seabed and accumulate in sediments, or wash ashore and pollute coastlines thereby resulting in significant ecosystem-wide impacts. This study assessed seagrass habitats (Zostera capensis) as potential sinks for microplastic pollution in the Knysna Estuary and the occurrence of ingestion by wild-caught pipefish (Syngnathus temminickii) and juvenile fish. Plastic particles were isolated from estuarine sediment and surface water from eight sites along the Knysna Estuary where eelgrass beds and syngnathids are found to be co-occurring. A non-destructive gut flushing protocol was applied to wild-caught S. temminickii, and juvenile fish were digested in acid to determine microplastic ingestion. Preliminary results show no significant difference (p > 0.05) between microplastic densities for vegetated (eelgrass habitats) versus unvegetated habitats (bare sediment). Wild-caught pipefish and juvenile fish were found to ingest microplastics under the applied extraction protocols. Findings from this study suggest that microplastics are commonly ingested by juvenile fish, and even pipefish, and can pose a significant threat to the nursery function which eelgrass habitats provide. Furthermore, this project will be valuable in establishing a baseline assessment of plastic pollution on eelgrass habitats and their resident species in the Knysna Estuary.

Hydrodynamic characteristics of the Mlalazi Estuary
14:45 - 15:00
Presented by :
BE Kelbe, UniZul & HR&TScc
Co-authors :
Khathutshelo Rasifudi, Dept Water And Sanitation
Lesiba Mmako, Dept Water And Sanitation

The Mlalazi Estuary has important conservation status but its hydrological status is not well defined. This study examines the catchment contribution, the translation and attenuation of the runoff hydrographs through the estuary and its response to marine tidal interactions. Discharge into the estuary was derived using a calibrated hydrological model using 100-year rainfall record incorporating extreme storm events. Short flow records provide sufficient events for model calibration. The depth-duration-frequency distributions provided the necessary input to simulate the propagation of significant fluvial events through the estuary. Floodplain elevation profile and channel bathymetry from various sources provided a digital elevation model used to establish hypsometric curves for hydrodynamic analysis. Propagation of extreme storms through the estuary and surrounding floodplain were determined using a hydrodynamic model. The translation and attenuation of storm hydrographs identified the sections of the estuary that were susceptible to erosion and the floodplain areas that were inundated during extreme events. Water level monitoring of the estuary channel provided a four-year record of the fluvial and marine interactions. Richards Bay marine tides enabled an analysis of translation and attenuation of the tidal interaction through the mouth. The flood tide period is half the corresponding ebb tide period creating different velocity profiles that cause differential scouring and deposition rates in the mouth that systematically lead to progressive accumulation of sediments that were interrupted by random storm events. Simultaneous monitoring of the tidal motion at the mouth and ~12 km upstream identified a ~2 hr lag in the tidal wave propagation. Simultaneous salinity measurements indicate that the seawater intrusion only extends half the length of the estuary providing an estimate of the tidal prism. This study presents a preliminary model of mouth closure and identified knowledge gaps and monitoring requirements for estuary management.

Macrozoobenthic community structure of the Bushmans Estuary in the Eastern Cape
15:00 - 15:15
Presented by :
Thabisa Mavubengwana, University Of Fort Hare
Co-authors :
Lukhanyiso Vumazonke, University Of Fort Hare

Bushmans Estuary is a permanently opened estuary situated in the warm temperate region of South Africa. Currently, the available scientific information on the Bushmans Estuary is comprehensive but information on macrozoobenthic fauna is either not properly addressed or scant. Studies on macrozoobenthic fauna are important in understanding estuarine ecosystem functioning and effective management, including conservation. A spatio-temporal variability study on macrozoobenthic fauna in Bushmans Estuary was conducted over a year. The fauna and physicochemical parameters including salinity, temperature, dissolved oxygen, and sediments were collected seasonally at eight different sites along the estuary. Macrozoobenthic communities were identified to the lowest taxa. Multivariate analyses were performed on the data using Primer V6 statistical software. A total of 57 species were identified. Univariate community parameters such as abundance and number of species varied significantly (p < 0.05) along the estuary and seasonally. Tanadacea, Apseudes digitalis, were the most abundant species followed by Corophiidae, Corophium sp, and the isopod, Mesanthura catenula. These species were also found to be most numerically dominant species collected during each sampling season. Multivariate analyses showed macrozoobenthic community composition was generally distinct between seasons and sites. A two-way ANOSIM showed a significant difference in groups between seasons (ANOSIM: global r = 0.664, p = 0.1) and sites (ANOSIM: global r = 0.683, p = 0.1). Depth, salinity, temperature and total organic content were important drivers influencing the community structure in this estuary. These results showed that spatiality and seasonal variability played an important role in structuring the macrozoobenthic community of this estuary. Human activity, including freshwater abstraction, may continue to structure these communities in this estuary.

14:00 - 15:30
Dining Room
Session 19: Comanagement of Protected Areas and the Biodiversity Economy
Format : Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Speakers
Kevan Zunckel, Zunckel Ecological & Environmental Services
Sakhile Nsukwini, University Of Mpumalanga
Nyiko Mutileni, Postgraduate, University Of Limpopo
Carina Coetzer, BirdLife South Africa
Zuzile Hlatshwayo, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Using resource economics to motivate effective management of Ethiopia’s protected areas
14:00 - 14:15
Presented by :
Kevan Zunckel, Zunckel Ecological & Environmental Services
Co-authors :
Kassahun Abera, Deutschen Gesellschaft F?r Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH - Ethiopia

The national and regional conservation authorities in Ethiopia are embarking on a process of compiling and updating the General Management Plans for their protected areas based on global best practice as put forward in the IUCN World Commission for Protected Areas Best Practice Guideline series. Preceding this endeavour was a five-year GEF project entitled "Sustainable Development of the Protected Area System of Ethiopia" (SDPASE), which included a resource economic study of the value of the national parks under the jurisdiction of the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority. The findings of this study were used to develop a business case for three national parks as part of the development of their management plans. As a country with great ecological and cultural diversity, Ethiopia has two out of the 35 biodiversity hotspots of global significance and is one of the Vavilov centres of crop origin. Recognizing these facts, Ethiopia has dedicated 14% of its land as protected areas. Nevertheless, it loses annually 40000 ha of forests, 800000 ha of woodland and 18 tons of fertile soil per ha of land due to rapid degradation of its natural environment. Ethiopia is a densely populated country with the 5th highest population growth rate in Africa and 70% of its surface area under subsistence agriculture. A volatile political history has left it with a legacy of ethnic division and weak government institutions with conservation being one of the weakest. The process to develop the General Management Plans revealed a dire situation with current budgets being 10% of what is needed for effective management and a host of dynamics negatively influencing park management. Application of the resource economic study findings showed that the return on investment for the country would be significant and that effectively managed protected areas would contribute to enhanced social and economic resilience.

Community perceptions of the state of biodiversity, threats and strategies for balancing conservation and livelihoods goals in the Somkhanda Game Reserve, South Africa
14:15 - 14:30
Presented by :
Sakhile Nsukwini, University Of Mpumalanga
Co-authors :
Urmilla Bob, University Of KwaZulu-Natal

The study sought to understand community perceptions of the status of biodiversity, threats and strategies for balancing conservation and livelihoods goals in the Somkhanda Game Reserve, which is a community-conserved area in northern KwaZulu-Natal pursuing conservation and rural development goals simultaneously. While conservation and sustainable development ideals have been promoted by many conservationists internationally, there was a resurgence of the protectionist paradigm at the end of the 20th century within certain conservation circles premised on the notion that a simultaneous pursuit of conservation and livelihoods goals will lead to ecological decline. A questionnaire survey, key-informant interviews, group discussion and observation were used in collecting primary data on the state of biodiversity, threats and strategies for balancing conservation and livelihood goals in the Somkhanda Game Reserve. Analysis of game count records in Somkhanda Game Reserve was also crucial in establishing the status of biodiversity in the community-protected area. Statistical Package for Social Science was used to analyse quantitative data gathered through the questionnaire while qualitative data were analysed narratively in line with the research objectives. The study revealed a healthy and steadily increasing wildlife population in the Somkhanda Game Reserve. However, community respondents cited poaching and illegal encroachment by local communities, over-reliance on natural resources and climate change as threats to biodiversity. Furthermore, community respondents also indicated that conservation should increase conservation benefits to local communities, include communities in decision-making, allow controlled access to natural resources in the conservation area, and lobby other organisations to meet community development needs and aspirations as strategies to balance conservation and livelihood goals in the Somkhanda Game Reserve. Contrary to proponents of strict protectionism, the results of the study highlighted that it is possible to pursue conservation and development goals simultaneously without compromising the ecological integrity of protected areas.

Communities and nature reserves: The influence of Man'ombe Nature Reserve on the ka-Homu communities' perception of conservation
14:30 - 14:45
Presented by :
Nyiko Mutileni, Postgraduate, University Of Limpopo

To date, the creation of protected areas excluded livelihood activities of surrounding communities. In most cases when protected areas were established, people living in or adjacent to them were either relocated or restricted from accessing the resources found inside these areas, upon which they previously depended to meet their daily needs. Due to this, conflict can arise between local communities and protected area stakeholders. It is therefore important to investigate the influence of protected areas on local communities' perceptions of conservation. Semi-structured questionnaire surveys (n = 48) were conducted in the ka-Homu community to determine the following: (a) the ka-Homu community knowledge and attitude toward Man'ombe Nature Reserve, (b) contribution of Man'ombe Nature Reserve to the ka-Homu community livelihood. Results show that 15% (n = 6) of ka-Homu respondents have visited Man'ombe Nature Reserve, while 56% (n = 24) indicated that they do not visit the reserve because they are restricted from collecting natural resources. The ka-Homu community expect certain benefits from the reserve with 78% (n = 34) of the respondents expecting to collect firewood inside the reserve. Ka-Homu respondents' attitude towards conservation is influenced by socio-economic benefits. They view Man'ombe Nature Reserve as a place that restricts them from accessing the natural resources, with 65% (n = 30) of the respondents indicating that they would be happy if the reserve was to be closed and transferred for development. Although Man'ombe Nature Reserve is a significant landmark because of its conservation value, its value is not recognised by the ka-Homu community because it does not contribute to their livelihood. For conservation to be successful, It is important to keep in mind that no community or natural resource exists in isolation. Local people can no longer be exempt from conservation, however, it will take strong leadership and a very clear mandate on how to achieve this.

Breeding success and frequency of priority threatened species on Ingula Nature Reserve and the implications for habitat management
14:45 - 15:00
Presented by :
Carina Coetzer, BirdLife South Africa
Co-authors :
Robin Colyn, BirdLife South Africa
Kishaylin Chetty, Eskom
Hanneline Smit-Robinson, BirdLife South Africa

The grasslands covering the eastern escarpment are one of South Africa's most valuable habitats, both from biodiversity and economic perspectives. The habitat hosts several threatened bird species including the critically endangered Rudd's lark (Heteromirafra ruddi), all three crane species, endangered African marsh harrier (Circus ranivorus), vulnerable southern bald ibis (Geronticus calvus) and the yellow-breasted pipit (Anthus chloris). Avian research and monitoring have been ongoing within the Ingula Nature Reserve for more than 15 years as part of the activities of the Ingula Partnership (BirdLife South Africa, Eskom and the Middelpunt Wetland Trust) with the objective of effectively conserving birds and their habitat surrounding the Ingula Pumped Storage Scheme development. Avian monitoring on Ingula refocused in 2014 to confirm the presence of threatened species on site, followed by the determination of the breeding status of these species. An initiative was then launched to assess the breeding frequency and success of each breeding species. Breeding monitoring for 13 out of the 24 occurring species commenced in 2014 and was conducted for five consecutive seasons. Breeding success per season was measured in relation to the grassland management regime of that season (including both fire and grazing), as well as weather data, adjusting for dry and wet seasons. Four species were chosen as representatives of different breeding strategies; i.e. wattled crane (Bugeranus carunculatus; wetland nesting omnivore), yellow-breasted pipit (ground-nesting insectivore), southern bald ibis (cliff-nesting insectivore) and secretary bird (Sagittarius serpentarius; tree nesting raptor). Results confirm that various grassland management regimes directly influenced the breeding activity and density of the yellow-breasted pipit, and the breeding success of the secretary bird and southern bald ibis. Wattled crane breeding success and frequency were primarily dependent on macro-weather patterns, with fire frequency and timing following. These results have direct implications for the management of Highland Grasslands and associated species in the given region.

The recreational value of Midmar Nature Reserve and Chelmsford Nature Reserve using the travel cost method
15:00 - 15:15
Presented by :
Zuzile Hlatshwayo, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

Protected areas can provide many opportunities for recreational activities. The informal nature of these activities makes it difficult to determine the economic value of recreational sites. Quantification of recreational sites is necessary to support conservation strategies and decision making when it comes to protected area management. This study aims to quantify the recreational value of Midmar Nature Reserve (Midmar NR) and Chelmsford Nature Reserve (Chelmsford NR) using the travel cost method (TCM). Field surveys were conducted at both study areas, and questionnaires were administered to visitors engaged in leisure activities. The questionnaires collected information on the visitors' socio-economic characteristics, travel time, travel costs, and willingness to pay for new activities. The total number of effective questionnaires used for further analysis was 35 for Chelmsford NR and 16 for Midmar NR. Preliminary results indicate that there is a relationship between travel time and the number of visits whereas by increasing travel time the number of visits decreased. At Chelmsford NR many of the visitors stay in close proximity to the reserve as 48.6% of visitors travel for less than one hour to visit the site. The average travel cost to access the reserve is R588.57 for Chelmsford NR and R218 for Midmar NR. The average willingness to pay for new activities at Chelmsford NR was R150.29 and R260 at Midmar NR. These values are significant because they reveal that the reserves could benefit from introducing new activities and improving existing facilities based on visitors' demand. Findings from this study are expected to serve as a guideline for future studies on the quantification of recreational sites for Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife protected areas as well as to consider the appropriateness of the TCM for the quantification of recreational sites.

15:30 - 16:00
Main Deck, Foyer Area & Lower Deck
Afternoon Tea
16:00 - 17:30
Rholands Hall
Session 20: Elephant Management: Further Perspectives
Format : Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Speakers
Antoinette Van De Water, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Michelle Henley, Elephants Alive
Robin Cook, Elephants Alive
Moderators
Pete Ruinard, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Drivers of human-elephant coexistence and their importance for management decisions
16:00 - 16:15
Presented by :
Antoinette Van De Water, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Co-authors :
Rob Slotow, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Michelle Henley, Elephants Alive
Kevin Matteson, Miami University

To understand the value of elephants for society, as well as the drivers of human-elephant coexistence, we surveyed rural communities, landowners and park managers in and around Dinokeng Game Reserve in South Africa and Salakpra Wildlife Sanctuary in Thailand. The project explores the cultural, social and existence value of elephants from multiple perspectives in various landscapes, shares insight into the concept of elephants as natural capital, and shows how perceived benefits affect people's attitudes toward elephants. The study, which is ongoing, consists of questionnaires (n = 600), in-depth interviews, and a series of participatory workshops. In general, more supportive attitudes toward elephants and coexistence were held by individuals who had received benefits (e.g. community development, feelings of pride and satisfaction, or financial benefits) from living with elephants (p = 0.001). The results will be framed in a theory of change model which highlights a bottom-up approach and three pathways to a shared vision of coexistence. The overall purpose of this study is to elucidate the values that elephants bring to society and to evaluate how these values contribute to increased human wellbeing and sustainable development. This transnational, community-based approach contributes to the development of integrated human-elephant coexistence strategies that reconcile conservation and human wellbeing goals.

The management dilemma: Removing elephants to save large trees
16:15 - 16:30
Presented by :
Michelle Henley, Elephants Alive
Co-authors :
Robin Cook, Elephants Alive

The loss of large trees ( > 5 m in height) in Africa's protected areas is often attributed to the impact of savanna elephants (Loxodonta africana). Concerns have been raised over large tree mortality levels in protected areas such as South Africa's Kruger National Park (KNP) and in the past, the need to manage its elephant population in order to preserve large trees and biodiversity as a whole. Our review aims to synthesise and discuss the complexities of managing elephants' effects on the landscape to ensure the survival of large trees, as well as the application purposes of the various lethal and non-lethal elephant mitigation strategies. We critically evaluate past management strategies, which have solely focused on controlling elephant numbers to protect large trees. A variety of options exist to manage the effects that elephants have on large trees. These options range from large-scale landscape manipulation solutions to small-scale individual tree protection methods. Our review evaluates how current mitigation strategies have shifted from purely managing elephant numbers to managing elephant distribution across impact gradients, thereby promoting heterogeneity within the system. Additionally, we discuss each mitigation strategy's occurrence at various landscape scales and its advantages and disadvantages when used to manage the impact of elephant on large trees.

Elephants and big trees: Developing mitigation methods to alleviate human-elephant conflict
16:30 - 16:45
Presented by :
Robin Cook, Elephants Alive
Co-authors :
Michelle Henley, Elephants Alive

Increasing African elephant (Loxodonta africana) numbers in South Africa's protected areas have caused concerns over the impact that elephants have on big tree species. Reserve managers are seeking elephant mitigation methods to protect big trees. The protection of particular big trees, whether for ecological or tourism purposes, requires the development and testing of elephant mitigation methods. These methods focus on directly protecting trees from elephant impact. We present the results from ongoing experiments in the Associated Private Nature Reserves adjoining the Kruger National Park. Methods are evaluated in terms of effectiveness at protecting the individual tree, as well as the financial costs involved in the method's installation. After three years, beehives are proving to be the most effective mitigation method (8% of trees impacted versus 80% of control trees). However, the method may cost between R600 – R5000 per tree. Wire-netting is relatively cheaper (R100 per tree) and is highly effective against bark-stripping (2% bark-stripping on wire-netted trees versus 32% on control trees). However, wire-netted trees are still vulnerable to stem-snapping and uprooting of trees (18% of trees). Creosote tins have been attempted on some properties for one year to repel elephants from trees. However, elephant impact has occurred on 23% of these trees in comparison to 29% of the control trees. Rock-packing can reduce elephant impact, but only when a radius of > 3 m of rocks is placed around a tree. Our aim is to provide reserve managers with critically evaluated methods that they can use to protect selected trees from elephant impact.

16:00 - 17:30
Chapel
Session 21: Understanding and Managing Ecological Changes and Processes
Format : Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Speakers
Izak Smit, South African National Parks
Vanessa Duthe, University Of Neuchatel
Mpilonhle Nyawo, Rhodes University / South African Institute For Aquatic Biodiversity
Sindiso Chamane, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Mxolisi Mabaso, WildTrust - WildLands
Moderators
Kevin Kirkman, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Herbivore culling influences spatio-temporal patterns of fire in a semi-arid savanna
16:00 - 16:15
Presented by :
Izak Smit, South African National Parks
Co-authors :
Sally Archibald, University Of The Witwatersrand

Fire and herbivory are competitive processes in grassy ecosystems as they both consume above-ground biomass. Despite this interaction between fire and grazing, herbivore and fire management plans in conservation areas are usually perceived and, hence, managed independently. This study demonstrates the importance of acknowledging and integrating the interdependence between herbivore and fire management. We compared average proportional area burnt during years when large-scale culling kept herbivore biomass within a narrow range within the Kruger National Park, South Africa, against subsequent years of no culling when herbivore densities increased to effectively double the biomass. Furthermore, to improve our mechanistic understanding, we utilised natural gradients in rainfall and grazing (distance from rivers as proxy) to test a conceptual model of how herbivory influences fire occurrence under different rainfall regimes. We found that fires were more prevalent during the culling period than thereafter, most likely due to increased grass consumption by the higher grazer biomass resulting from the cessation of culling. Furthermore, the fire suppression effect of increasing grazing biomass was most pronounced in areas closer to rivers (~50% reduction in areas within 1 km of rivers). Furthermore, the "grazer effect" was more pronounced in lower rather than higher rainfall areas, supporting our conceptual model. Our study contributes to the surprisingly limited literature on how wild herbivores, or the lack thereof, influence fire regimes. Our results have important implications for protected area management and rewilding initiatives, and highlight some of the implications of different approaches towards herbivore management.

Out of scale out of place: Black rhino habitat use across the hierarchical organisation of the savanna ecosystem
16:15 - 16:30
Presented by :
Vanessa Duthe, University Of Neuchatel
Co-authors :
Emmanuel Defossez, University Of Neuch?tel
Rickert Van Der Westhuizen, Presenter, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Gaetan Glauser, Neuch?tel Platform Of Analytical Chemistry
Sergio Rasmann, Universtiy Of Neuch?tel

The black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis L.) is among the world's most endangered megaherbivore species and their conservation is dependent on nature reserves that are bound and habitat-restricted. Successful black rhinoceros population management and conservation plans require precisely characterising their ecological needs in order to optimise reproduction rates and translocation plans. Therefore, defining the optimal environment this species needs, and the factors driving its habitat use, is crucial for establishing meta-population management strategies. We combined black rhino multi-year sightings data with ecosystem productivity, vegetation type and forage preferences to address their habitat use across different scales. Ecosystem productivity was assessed by the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and metabolomics were performed on specific plant species to investigate mechanisms involved in diet choice. We found that black rhinos' spatial distribution was negatively associated with ecosystem productivity, but positively associated with specific vegetation types that contain highly-preferred, chemically-distinct plant species. Black rhinos thus occupy their habitat across space and time through selective foraging on preferred plants. This dataset provides new insight into black rhino habitat use in relation to foraging across a hierarchical organisation of the savanna ecosystem and hence should be included when considering population management strategies and operations. Identification of specific plants preferentially used by black rhinos, plant chemical profiling, ranking vegetation type attractiveness, and measuring ecosystem productivity (NDVI) could lead to revised carrying capacity calculations and assist in the development of more accurate reserve and meta-population management programs.

Do submarine canyons influence the diversity and structure of benthic fish assemblages occurring on the continental shelf edge?
16:30 - 16:45
Presented by :
Mpilonhle Nyawo, Rhodes University / South African Institute For Aquatic Biodiversity
Co-authors :
Anthony Bernard, South African Institute For Aquatic Biodiversity
Tamsyn Livingstone, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

Submarine canyons are valleys on the sea-floor that are steep-sided and sculpted into the continental slope. These complex structures in our oceans are being regarded as biodiversity hotspots due to the emerging evidence of higher complexity, species abundance, biomass and diversity around submarine canyons compared with areas away from canyons. Off the eastern seaboard of South Africa, the heads of the numerous deep canyons emerge relatively close inshore. This suggests that the ecological role of these canyons may be important not only to the deep­-sea environment that they extend down into, but that they may also be strongly connected ecologically to the adjacent inshore zones. Being close to the shore also suggests that these canyons are easily accessible by small boats and there is evidence to suggest that they are actively targeted for both pelagic and bottom fishing. However, very little research has been focused on the ecological functioning of South Africa's submarine canyons. Thus, the importance of canyons for biodiversity, conservation and the provisioning services that they support is not well understood. This study then aims to generate an understanding of the role of canyons in influencing fish community structure at the continental shelf edge. This study was carried out in the submarine canyons of iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Baited remote underwater stereo-video systems (stereo-BRUVs) were used to record video footage of benthic fish. Video footages were analysed using the event measure software to yield measures of fish assemblage structure including species composition, abundance and size structure. Preliminary results indicate a significant difference between the submarine canyon and the area distance from the canyon (slope). Additionally, there is higher species abundance and lower evenness in the canyons compared to the slope, however, inconsistent patterns are observed when it comes to species richness.

Response of three mesic South African perennial grassland forbs to defoliation and competition
16:45 - 17:00
Presented by :
Sindiso Chamane, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Co-authors :
Kevin Kirkman, University Of KwaZulu-Natal
Craig Morris, Agricultural Research Council
Timothy O'Connor, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)

The importance of maintaining biodiversity in natural grasslands under livestock production systems has been recognised. Forbs contribute more to species richness than grasses in South African grasslands. However, little is known about the impact of grazing and grass competition on the population dynamics of forbs. The aim of this study was to determine the response of three mesic grassland perennial forb species to simulated intensive defoliation and interspecific competition from a neighbouring dominant grass, Themeda triandra, in a field experiment. Two of the selected forb species are sensitive to defoliation (Afroaster hispida and Gerbera ambigua) and one is potentially resistant to defoliation (Hypoxis hemerocallidea). Defoliation resulted in smaller plants of all three species following regrowth. Only A. hispida showed an interaction response to defoliation and competition; it tolerated competition when undefoliated but was sensitive to competition when defoliated. A competitive release was observed for A. hispida in that the height of defoliated plants was reduced by 45% compared with undefoliated plants under full competition, but there was no difference under partial or no competition. Gerbera ambigua was unaffected by competition. Hypoxis hemerocallidea was sensitive to competition irrespective of being defoliated or undefoliated. Findings of this study highlighted an individual response such that a general response cannot be predicted. Given that South African grasslands contain hundreds of forb species, it begs the question of how varied forb responses to defoliation and competition might be or whether there might be a few basic patterns of response related to growth form and palatability. This research highlights the need for further research on mesic forbs to better understand their response to defoliation and competition that will aid in better managing and conserving mesic forbs.

United Nations decade on ecosystem restoration – an African perspective
17:00 - 17:15
Presented by :
Mxolisi Mabaso, WildTrust - WildLands
16:00 - 17:30
Dining Room
Conservation Café
Format : Workshop
18:30 - 20:30
Main Deck, Foyer Area & Lower Deck
Frog Night!
Format : Field Trip

18:30 - 20:30
Marquee
Quiz Evening
Format : Evening Function
Thursday, 07 Nov 2019
07:30 - 08:30
Main Deck, Foyer Area & Lower Deck
Registration
08:30 - 10:30
Rholands Hall
Session 22: Plenary: Thursday
Format : Oral Presentations | Poster Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Speakers
Izak Smit, South African National Parks
John Swift, British Association For Shooting And Conservation
David Lindley, WWF South Africa
Kaveesha Naicker, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Dikobe Molepo, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Sivuyisiwe Situngu, Wits Uiniversity
Moderators
Samantha Oriole De Villiers , ELA / Ndlovu De Villiers Attorneys
Conservation framings - are we diverse in opinion or are we at conflict with ourselves?
08:45 - 09:15
Presented by :
Izak Smit, South African National Parks

Conservation is a mission-based and value-laden discipline, and underlying conservation framings/orientations can vary widely between individuals. Furthermore, prevailing conservation framings can change over time due to periodic adoption of "fads and fashions" or general drift in societal values and expectations. Conservation framings are mostly a result of how people view their relationship with nature and it has important consequences in terms of how acceptable, or not, individuals perceive specific conservation policies and actions (e.g. resource use, the commodification of nature, conservation-linked socio-economic development, and lethal population management). In recent years, the debates over the "future of conservation" often led to polarised viewpoints - these apparent opposing viewpoints are visible in social media and academic journals alike - illustrating that both the general public as well as conservation scientists grapple with these issues. I will be highlighting some of the dominant conservation framings currently debated. These relate to the fundamental question on "why" nature should be conserved ("people-centred" vs "nature-centred" approaches), different approaches towards conservation management ("compassionate conservation" vs more "traditional" conservation approaches), as well as the question on how conservation should be funded ("market embracing" vs "market sceptic" approaches). I will also present some preliminary survey results as to the conservation framings of visitors to South African National Parks (SANParks) reserves. A better understanding of the conservation framings of visitors to national parks will provide management insight into how aligned (or not) visitors are to the SANParks conservation policy direction. It will also highlight specific conservation actions for which particularly polarised views exist, which may require targeted engagement and communication with the public. If conservation and protected area managers do not understand how society views conservation, and are disengaged with the diversity of societal expectations, they will become increasingly isolated and experience opposition to policies and management decisions.

The lead fix
09:15 - 09:45
Presented by :
John Swift, British Association For Shooting And Conservation

In this presentation, I will provide a global overview of lead sources, especially those from lead ammunition, as well as issues for wildlife, people and the environment from exposure to lead. It will assess efforts being made to reduce exposures, especially those arising from lead ammunition, including lessons learned, what works (or usually doesn’t) as well as the balance between voluntary measures and regulation. The approaches being followed in southern Africa, with particular reference to vultures and other scavenger species, will be covered by other Symposium papers, so this presentation will summarise where things stand elsewhere, including in the USA and Canada, western Europe and the European Union, South America, East Asia and Australasia. The opportunity will be taken to summarise actions being taken by multi-national initiatives through international agencies and treaty organisations, to most of which South Africa is signatory or partner. These will include UNEP and the AEWA, IUCN and WHO, as well as CBD, CMS, UNEA, Ramsar, etc. It will also summarise initiatives taken by hunters’ organisations and grassroots. The presentation will assess lessons learned and barriers yet to be overcome, including those related to ammunition performance and marketing as well as socio-politics and traditional hunting outlooks. Wherever possible references and links will be provided for the latest known key sources of reliable information and background. The presentation will conclude with a summary of the advantages to wildlife, human health and the future reputation and sustainability of hunting, by us hunters getting off our lead fix and fixing the lead problem.

The power of convening learning partnerships for safeguarding water source areas
09:45 - 10:00
Presented by :
David Lindley, WWF South Africa

WWF-SA has strategically decided to develop and support multi-stakeholder partnerships for securing the management of water source areas, and supporting catchment-based land and water stewardship partnerships and projects. Cultivating partnerships and nurturing/supporting their growth is a complex process that requires developing relationships, creating trust and transparency, learning from each other, and co-creating solutions in a highly collaborative way. This takes place in the context of multiple partners having divergent and often conflicting worldviews, in why and how water source areas should be managed. WWF has found that finding solutions in these complex situations required the staff of WWF and its partner organisations to be equipped with a new set of skills; having the ability to convene or bring people together in a 'safe space' to reflect on their own world views and those of others. It is about supporting people to develop a common understanding of issues and supporting a possible change of their own ideals, values and beliefs. This enables the possibility of co-creating solutions together and implementing collective actions. To do this effectively, WWF has found that it requires an understanding and use of the disciplines of informal adult learning and social change, and what specific transformative social learning processes can support it. This is not an easy task - it requires the staff responsible for convening to have the ability to both understand the context of nature as well as the structural contexts that institutions operate in, and the push and pull factors that either inhibit or open up opportunities for significant structural change. It requires being empathetic to the constraints that institutions face as well as holding a strong moral position and voice for nature. Insights from the work of the WWF-Mondi Water Stewardship Partnership over the past 25 years will be shared.

CREW citizen scientists taking plant conservation to the next level
10:00 - 10:03
Presented by :
Kaveesha Naicker, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)

The Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers Programme (CREW) is a citizen science programme based at the South African National Biodiversity Institute, partly funded by the Botanical Society of South Africa and the Mapula Trust. The programme is dedicated to bringing dialogue about plant conservation to the public. The programme has been in operation for 16 years and has greatly impacted botanical conservation in South Africa, contributing to the discovery of new species, providing occurrence data for range-restricted species, and restoring natural habitats for highly threatened species. The contributions made by the CREW programme feed into nine of the 16 targets in South Africa's Plant Strategy. Collaborating with conservation agencies, local municipalities and higher education entities is a priority for CREW across the country to bridge the gaps in plant conservation in South Africa while building human capital and creating awareness.

Profiling impacts and risks associated with invasive alien birds in South Africa
10:03 - 10:06
Presented by :
Dikobe Molepo, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)

Biological invasions pose a serious threat to biodiversity and associated ecosystem services, livelihoods and other socio-economic aspects. Information and data are needed to ensure proper listing and management of invasive alien species. Invasive bird species are one such group that cause massive impacts on all aspects of biodiversity, including the bio-economy. For example, Corvus splendens (house crow) has been reported to feed on crops such as mangoes, apples, grapes and guavas. They also raid vegetable gardens reducing produce quality and quantity, and affecting selling prices. Evidence to support these impacts is generally poorly documented and few efforts have been made to collate such information and data. We collated documented information on the impacts of invasive alien birds listed under national legislation (NEMBA: Act 10 of 2004 and the Alien and Invasive Species Regulations, 2014) from peer-reviewed publications, databases, grey literature, dissertations and other resources. We found a dearth of studies with peer-reviewed and verifiable evidence on the impacts of invasive alien birds. Some scattered and often old documents, however, provide evidence of the impacts of some birds species listed in different invasive alien species categories. For example, Passer domesticus (house sparrow), Acridotheres tristis (common myna) and Sturnus vulgaris (common starling) listed in category 3 and Anas platyrhynchos (mallard duck) in category 2, all compete with native species for resources such as nesting sites and food. More effort and resources need to be mobilised to document the impacts of bird species across different sectors of society. The impacts associated with these bird species, will assist in profiling posed risks for better management and listing of invasive alien birds under NEMBA regulations and other regulatory tools.

A review: Soil systems and global climate change. Implications for soil conservation in South Africa
10:06 - 10:09
Presented by :
Sivuyisiwe Situngu, Wits Uiniversity

Soil systems are probably the most important and complex biological systems and provide a wide range of ecosystem services. These include carbon and nitrogen cycling, decomposition of plant litter and water purification. Soils are also a reservoir of a huge diversity of microorganisms which are essential to the functioning and productivity of ecosystems. However, global climate change poses a threat to biological systems and among those affected are soil systems and their interactions with plants. Research on the impact of climate change on soils highlights that increasing temperature will likely affect the rate at which decomposition occurs as well as the net primary production of plants. Soil microbial communities also respond to soil warming and to elevated CO2 and their response might affect nitrogen and carbon cycling. Furthermore, climate change may have an influence on mycorrhizosphere interactions because of changes in the biomass and composition of soil micro-fauna. All of these changes will affect soil productivity either directly (affecting the availability of certain nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus) or indirectly (affecting soil biota). This will prove to be a unique challenge, particularly in South Africa, because this country's soil is sandy and generally of low fertility. These soils also tend to be easily eroded. The aim of this review is to detail our current understanding of how soil ecosystems will be affected by changes in climate. I use this current understanding to infer on challenges that might face soil conservation scientists in South Africa and highlight the need for more research on the effects of climate change on below-ground processes.

10:30 - 11:00
Main Deck, Foyer Area & Lower Deck
Morning Tea
11:00 - 13:00
Rholands Hall
Session 23: Land Use Change and Other Threats to Biodiversity
Format : Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Speakers
Samantha Oriole De Villiers , ELA / Ndlovu De Villiers Attorneys
Irene Hatton, EKZNW
Jenny Longmore, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Bradley Gibbons, The Endangered Wildlife Trust
Peter Taylor, University Of Venda
Lize Joubert-van Der Merwe, Presenter, Stellenbosch University
Claudette James, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Buffer zones: Purpose versus perception
11:00 - 11:15
Presented by :
Samantha Oriole De Villiers , ELA / Ndlovu De Villiers Attorneys
Linear developments, protected areas and the art of war
11:15 - 11:30
Presented by :
Irene Hatton, EKZNW

This is war! Make no mistake about it! This is a war for biodiversity to survive. Linear developments have always presented a significant threat to protected area integrity and never no so than at present. The types of threats, responses and decision-making for linear developments have changed markedly in KwaZulu-Natal over the past 25 years, with a greater reliance on EIAs and other tools to assist in sustainable decision-making. Despite South Africa having some of the world's strongest environmental legislation, the twin pressures of job creation and service delivery are key drivers in the current environmental, economic and political climate, and are often at the forefront of decision-making. Officials tend towards short-term or least resistance solutions, and thus linear development threats to the protected area estate are having a greater impact than ever before. Decision-making tools are often designed to try and adapt to this almost unbearable pressure in order to find an expedient solution when faced with potentially mutually exclusive demands on a protected area. This type of reactive, piecemeal defence only slows down the rate of loss, but still assures the decline of the protected area estate. We may do well to heed some of the key principles of Sun Tzu's Art of War such as "the supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting", when considering our strategy, as we a do not fight from a position of strength. Thus a co-ordinated, untiring and proactive approach of entrenching value, building alliances, and securing key areas, all of which are Art of War strategies, are required to secure the future of our remaining protected areas from the impacts of linear developments.

Anthropogenic land use change: A threat to protected areas and society
01:30 - 11:45
Presented by :
Jenny Longmore, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Birds and farmers: Reducing conflict through effective crop protection
11:45 - 12:00
Presented by :
Bradley Gibbons, The Endangered Wildlife Trust
Co-authors :
Tanya Smith, Endangered Wildlife Trust
Arnaud Le Roux, Ecoguard Biosciences

Bird related crop depredation across commercial and subsistence farms on the continent is a very real threat to farmers' crop yields. Although the extent of bird-caused damage across the continent is not understood, research in South Africa has shown the impacts of bird depredation on planted maize seedlings. The conflict between farmers and birds, both common and threatened bird species such as blue (Anthropoides paradiseus) and grey crowned (Balearica regulorum) cranes, can sometimes end in poisoning. Mitigation measures to date have largely included 'scare techniques', such as gas cannons, used to chase birds away from fields. Due to the threat of poisoning, it is important to develop efficient and cost-effective measures to reduce crop depredation and therefore minimise the conflict between the farming community and threatened birds. With the rapid expansion of agricultural croplands in Africa, the extent of the threat is likely to increase if we do not develop and test sustainable solutions. Avipel® has successfully been used in the United States of America for controlling damage-causing birds. With the plant-derived active ingredient anthraquinone, Avipel® is a non-lethal, organic seed treatment repellent, which effectively limits feeding on the planted seeds by birds. To date, seed treatment used to prevent bird-related crop depredation has not yet taken place on farms in South Africa. However, trials are underway to test the product using helmeted guineafowl (Numida meleagris) and Swainson's spurfowl (Pternistis swainsonii). Results indicate that a significant number of seeds treated with this product were not selected by the guineafowl and spurfowl. The next steps include registering Avipel® for seed treatment and working together with the industry to ensure that the product is widely available to both commercial and subsistence farmers across Africa.

Nature's bounty requires wise stewardship: Bad agricultural practices in the macadamia industry can cause massive economic losses of bat and bird ecosystem services in pest control
12:00 - 12:15
Presented by :
Peter Taylor, University Of Venda
Co-authors :
Valerie Linden, University Of Venda
Ingo Grass, University Of Goettingen
Vusani Mhpethe, University Of Venda
Sina Weier, University Of Venda
Teja Tscharntke, University Of Goettingen

Recently published findings showed surprisingly high economic nut yield and quality losses when bats and birds were excluded from macadamia trees (up to 60% of yield, or USD5,000 per ha per year). In the current study conducted in a macadamia landscape at Levubu, Limpopo, South Africa, we quantified the alpha and beta diversity and functional and species composition of the local bat populations using 43,000 bat calls recorded on 265 nights over a 14 month period at 12 sites in six macadamia orchards. We recognised three foraging guilds: clutter-feeders, clutter-edge feeders and open-air feeders. To understand both fine- and broader scale landscape effects on bat populations, we compared communities within the macadamia landscape as well as those between macadamia orchards and nearby natural and urban landscapes. Using additive partitioning, it was found that beta richness was relatively high in macadamia orchards (41% of total richness) due to turnover in season, farms and edges (natural or unnatural), a figure much higher than that found in adjacent urbanised landscapes (23%) where the turnover between land-use types (crop fields, settlements and rangelands) and sites and villages was almost negligible. Analysis of species and functional composition of communities, however, showed that slow-flying clutter-feeding bats were present in very low numbers in macadamia landscapes compared with the natural "control" (two nature reserves located in the Western Soutpansberg mountains), comprising only 0.3% and 3% of all calls respectively. Since recent research has shown that both bat activity and the economic value of their services are significantly higher in natural environments as compared with those in anthropogenic habitats, the current trend in land transformation for macadamia cultivation (about 2,000 ha added per year), spurred on by very high world prices for macadamia nuts and predictions of doubling of production within the next five years, can have extreme detrimental effects in terms of both declining yield and the need for intensified chemical control.

Strengths and weaknesses of two monitoring approaches in timber production mosaic landscapes
12:15 - 12:30
Presented by :
Lize Joubert-van Der Merwe, Presenter, Stellenbosch University
Co-authors :
Michael Samways, Stellenbosch University

Many threatened and protected species occur outside formally protected areas, on private land used for commercial purposes. Effective conservation is a special challenge to private landowners. What should be done, practically and on-the-ground, to safeguard the persistence of these species into the future? Moreover, how well are we doing in maintaining conditions that maintain or advance their chances of survival? In a system where recent burning and drought cycles often influence the detectability of species, it is necessary to look beyond just species monitoring to understand how they respond to changes in the landscape. Using the SA forestry industry, I shall show how monitoring of threatened and protected species can be complemented by a more pragmatic approach of monitoring those environmental management practices that could potentially harm sensitive species' populations. While species monitoring generally requires specialist knowledge, the latter does not and so can be done more frequently and with quicker feedback in an iterative cycle of adaptive management. Using real-world examples throughout the presentation, I shall illustrate some of the other strengths and weaknesses that we encountered thus far using these two different approaches.

What’s in the window? Exploring the pet trade in KwaZulu-Natal
12:30 - 12:45
Presented by :
Claudette James, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Co-authors :
Brent Coverdale, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

Commercial trade in exotic animals has gone relatively unchecked in KwaZulu-Natal in recent years despite various suits of legislation governing the control thereof. Investigating the pet trade industry is the first step in understanding the extent of this trade, the species involved and the level of threat that such poses to the province's indigenous biodiversity. Numerous pet shops were visited across the province to ascertain the species being traded, the rate of turnover, and whether or not seasonal variations are in existence. A total of 53 pet shops were identified through a web-based search which resulted in 17 shops being visited, with those which only traded in pet products being excluded. Exotic species across four taxa were recorded, of which ten are listed within either the Alien Invasive Species Regulations or the Natal Nature Conservation Ordinance. This research will assist conservation officials in identifying traders which require further assistance in obtaining compliance and ensuring customers, in turn, apply for the necessary permits from either Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife or the Department of Environmental Affairs. The results obtained strongly suggest a need for intervention, especially with the trade of alien invasive species of fauna. Some of the challenges experienced during the course of this study include, pet shop owners being oblivious to the effects of alien invasive species, incorrectly labelled specimens, limited understanding of legislative requirements for trading in exotic and indigenous animals, and the inappropriate release of pets by traders to control the numbers of their stock. Furthermore, many pet shops do not provide information care sheets for the species they have for sale. There is still a major gap between the pet trade and compliance with regulations. This research aims to try and bridge the gap between the pet trade in KwaZulu-Natal and compliance with regulations.

11:00 - 13:00
Chapel
Session 24: Special Session: Effective Management of Protected Areas - What is Required to Ensure their Viability?
Format : Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Speakers
Mzokhona Andrias, Department Of Environmental Affairs
Suvarna Parbhoo-Mohan, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Chris Galliers, Presenter, Conservation Outcomes NPC
Angus Burns, WWF South Africa
Gregory Martindale, Conservation Outcomes NPC
Moderators
Kevin McCann, Conservation Outcomes NPC
Monitoring South Africa's protected areas management effectiveness using the web-based management effectiveness tracking tool (METT)
11:00 - 11:15
Presented by :
Mzokhona Andrias, Department Of Environmental Affairs
Co-authors :
Karl Naude, Department Of Environment, Forest An Fisheries

Assessing the management effectiveness of protected areas using the Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool (METT) has gained popularity in recent years, both in South Africa and internationally. This arose from the Convention on Biological Diversity Programme of Work in Protected Areas (PoWPA) in the late 2000s (https://www.cbd.int/protected/pow/learnmore/intro/). In response, South Africa domesticated the global METT into METT South Africa Version 1 which was used annually (baseline published in 2010) for assessments across the country, for submission to the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) for collation and national analysis. The application of METT South Africa Version 1 drew attention to its limitations and then led to revision processes, ultimately resulting in an improved version, METT South Africa Version 3 (METT 3). First assessments on the new revision were undertaken in 2015 and data submitted to DEA. The revision highlighted areas of weaknesses, and also highlighted, for example, the suitability of the tool for World Heritage Sites (WHS) and Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Since then, additional areas of the tool that require strengthening have emerged, such as catering for other kinds of protected areas, and having a tool that responds to different needs, which include, but are not limited to, private nature reserves, Ramsar sites, stewardship sites, GEF project sites and transfrontier conservation areas (TFCAs). Other areas requiring attention include the development of the system that will respond to assessing sites with multiple designations or covering different kinds of protected areas. There was also a need for an integrated, online system that could be used remotely. Therefore, the web-based METT tool was developed as a centralized, automated repository of a data, and an analytical response system.

Citizen scientists contributing to government land-use decision-making
11:15 - 11:30
Presented by :
Suvarna Parbhoo-Mohan, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)

South Africa's Plant Conservation Strategy has nurtured a network of botanists, conservation agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and academic institutions. The strategy includes 16 outcome-oriented targets, each of which, if implemented well, will support improved conservation of plants in South Africa. Target 4 of the strategy relates to securing biodiversity targets for terrestrial ecosystems through effective management. The Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (CREW) citizen science programme is aligned with the national Plant Conservation Strategy and makes an important contribution towards nine of the 16 targets, including Target 4. The Biodiversity Stewardship Programme (BSP) is a key initiative for conserving sites containing threatened plants as well as sites containing threatened ecosystem types that are underrepresented in South Africa's protected areas. Since the inception of the BSP in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces, the CREW programme has forged strong partnerships and has contributed to working on management plans and landowner engagement for 173 sites. CREW citizen scientists conduct botanical surveys to identify sites that could/should enter the biodiversity stewardship process, and for sites that have entered the biodiversity stewardship process ground-truth priority species predicted to occur on the sites, develop species lists for the management plans, and, where appropriate, raise concerns based on an intimate knowledge and continuing engagements with sites. The integration of citizen scientists collecting plant data into government land-use planning and decision-making is novel globally. Without the ongoing collection of new plant data, national, provincial and local government planning and decision-making would largely exclude the consideration of recent, accurate and comprehensive plant species data. In the absence of this data, inappropriate land-use management activities would be approved that would lead to the loss of threatened species and their associated habitats. Citizen scientists could play a greater role in the management of protected areas by adopting state-owned land under municipal management as well as enhancing custodianship activities to manage and protect sites.

Making natural areas more profitable than modified ones without modifying them
11:30 - 11:45
Presented by :
Chris Galliers, Presenter, Conservation Outcomes NPC
Co-authors :
Musa Mbatha, Babanango Game Reserve

The irrefutable findings of the recent Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) report show that the loss of nature is happening at an accelerated rate. The expansion of protected area networks is a recognised and effective way that can assist in slowing down this rate. However, in a changing global socio-political context, this is no longer enough to ensure protected area security. Thus, through necessity, the conservation sector is being forced to find innovative mechanisms that combine sustainable economic benefits, social development targets and natural resource conservation, as well as explicitly demonstrating the linkages between them. Professor Brian Childs sums up this nexus with this question, "How do we make natural systems more profitable than modified ones?" But the profitability (or benefit flow) can only be sustainable if the natural system is not exploited. In the wake of South Africa's National Biodiversity Economy Strategy, and more recently, the African Wildlife Economy Summit 2019, it is broadly accepted that Africa's unique wildlife and ecosystems hold the potential to catalyse radical economic transformation, especially in rural economically-depressed landscapes. But what tools are at our disposal to enable this and which ones will work in landscapes which all have a nuanced context? By drawing on a few private-community-owned projects which Conservation Outcomes has been involved in, (which includes two possible new Big Five reserve developments in the uMfolozi Biodiversity Economy Node), we evaluate some of the constraints such as land ownership rights and responsibilities, institutional arrangements, community cohesion, communication, network and skills deficits, as well as the real opportunities, including best practice protected area management, job creation potential, driving economies, integrated business models, and innovative resourcing of the projects. As lessons learnt, we also share tools that have been used with varying degrees of success.

Improving the understanding of the linkage between human well-being and a functional natural environment, secured within protected areas
11:45 - 12:00
Presented by :
Angus Burns, WWF South Africa

The pursuit of human wellbeing is one of the primary goals for society and is a key focus of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted in 2015. Many publications and studies have further highlighted the absolute reliance of the human population on a functional natural environment providing the ecosystem services required for our daily needs and general wellbeing. A key environmental feature, and ecosystem service, that is critical for the wellbeing of the human population in South Africa, and the world, is the provision of suitable quality and quantity of water. Much of the ecological infrastructure providing these water services has been severely impacted, as shown in SANBI's Biodiversity Assessment, with wetlands being the most threatened ecosystem. An excellent understanding of our strategic water source areas (SWSA's) exists in South Africa, which is the 10% of our land surface area that provides more than 50% of South Africa's water. The link of SWSA's to our survival (with the securing and better management of them) is a priority in the face of diminishing viable resources and climate change realities. In order to facilitate initiatives such as the development of a new grassland national protected area that is being proposed for the north-Eastern Cape, we need to improve the understanding of the values of securing new protected areas, not only for their biodiversity value, but their critical role in human wellbeing, driving economic growth with clear benefits to society.

Development of new income streams for protected areas: Driving the wildlife economy
12:00 - 12:15
Presented by :
Gregory Martindale, Conservation Outcomes NPC

In 2018 Conservation Outcomes began assisting South African National Parks (SANParks) in the development of a business plan for the Skukuza abattoir in the Kruger National Park. Subsequently, this work has broadened to include the entire open system with a view to establishing a game meat market under the auspices of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (GLTFCA) Cooperative Agreement, incorporating other game meat abattoirs in the open system. This provides the opportunity to work with partner protected areas to create a Greater Kruger brand for game meat produced from the open system. This will enable a coordinated effort to develop game meat as an income stream for the protected areas and drive socio-economic development and support to communities living in the region. Participants that qualify to use the Greater Kruger brand will gain access to its market, thus providing an avenue for the sale of their products. Ultimately the development of the game meat market and the associated brand will act as a catalyst and driver for the development of a broad wildlife economy initiative in the region, encouraging the creation of new protected areas that can gain market access for their products through the Greater Kruger brand. This will extend beyond game meat and include other products and activities linked to tourism in the region. The game meat market embraces the principles of sustainable resource use. This is important, as the local communities living in the areas around the Greater Kruger are heavily reliant on natural resources as part of their livelihood strategies. Furthermore, these communities are the interface for human-wildlife conflict in the region. Accordingly, it is vital that they are able to participate in a meaningful way in the wildlife industry and are able to clearly appreciate its benefits.

11:00 - 13:00
Dining Room
Session 25: Special Session: Science-Based Meta-Population Management for Recovery of Species in Crisis - A Case Study using Black Rhinoceros
Format : Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Speakers
Richard Emslie, IUCN African Rhino Specialist Group
Dave Balfour, Independent
Ursina Rusch, WWF South Africa
Nikki Le Roex, SANParks
Peter Goodman, Wildlife Conservation Solutions
Moderators
Jo Shaw, WWF South Africa
History of and findings on black rhino population growth and management in the southern African region through SADC RMG status reporting
11:15 - 11:30
Presented by :
Keryn Adcock, Independent, And Specialist With IUCN SSC African Rhino Specialist Group And SADC Rhino Management Group
Co-authors :
Richard Emslie, IUCN African Rhino Specialist Group

Since 1989, black rhino information sharing has happened on a confidential basis via status reporting every two to four years. The raw data for regional summary and analyses includes wherever possible: individual rhino histories (rhino ID, sex, birth date, mother, introduction / removal and mortality dates and details, other relevant notes), reserve area size and actual area available to the rhino, annual rainfall by month, and game count data for competing browser biomass determination. Large reserves without individual rhino monitoring submit population size estimates and annual sex/age, introduction, removal and mortality data as available. Female breeding performance indices like age at first calving (AFC), inter-calving intervals and ratios of calves to adult females, can be compared across different ecosystems, rhino densities, subspecies, and management systems, as can growth and mortality rates and patterns, which improves our understanding of site potentials across southern Africa and limiting factors in habitat and management tactics. Translocations for range expansion can exert 10% losses from capture to one year-post-release (via stress, accidents and fighting). Additionally, there can be losses from still-births in late-term pregnancy moves, or in delayed female AFC. However, after three to five years (and often sooner) the gains from translocation to new sites exceed the losses. Female calving success is often limited when adult sex ratios are not suitably female-biased, and in low nutrient geology habitats, especially under high rainfalls. Black rhino also breed better in semi-arid and arid sites. Numbers regionally have grown from c. 2,600 rhino in 34 breeding populations in 1989, to over 4,700 in (currently) 110 such populations. The successes came via regional collaboration, emphasising good rhino monitoring, active management for sound biological growth, the adoption of set percentage harvesting and well-planned rhino range expansion programs, coupled with strong anti-poaching measures.

A theory of change to grow numbers of African rhino at a conservation site
11:30 - 11:45
Presented by :
Dave Balfour, Independent
Co-authors :
Chris Barichievy, Conservation Alpha
Chris Gordon, Conservation Alpha
Rob Brett, Fauna & Fauna International

Rhino horn is highly valued and this drives the illegal hunting of rhino which, in turn, is driving the critically endangered species closer to extinction in the wild. As a strategy to counter rhino losses incurred through poaching, managers of African protected areas commonly seek to increase the number of rhino in their populations by promoting their growth through management. These efforts are commonly constrained by being balanced against other protected area objectives which seek to manage towards a "natural ecological state". This is reflected in the draft continental rhino conservation plan as well as many national level rhino plans in Africa, but details on how this can be achieved at a site level are limited; indeed a framework for thinking about the problem is lacking. Here we develop a theory of change which guides management interventions when seeking to grow rhino numbers at a conservation site. We identify four thematic areas for intervention namely; habitat management; range availability; containment and natural attrition; and rhino population management. As many protected areas are underfunded they seek to attract funding, but many donors are uncertain as to best practice and/or are hesitant to dictate how funds should be spent. This theory of change can serve as a framework to guide funding. It can also guide policy in this regard.

Genetic meta-population management of black rhinos
11:45 - 12:00
Presented by :
Ursina Rusch, WWF South Africa

In the 1990s, the continental black rhino population reached less than 2,500 animals, largely due to poaching. Since then, through great management efforts, the numbers have doubled to more than 5,000 and continue to rise. Over the past decades, some thought has been given to genetic diversity in those rhino populations, however, the primary goal was to increase numbers and, until recently, DNA testing was laborious and expensive. With the advent of rapid and affordable DNA profiling, detailed genetic information can be used to inform population management decisions, and ensure that rhino numbers not only continue to increase but that populations are genetically healthy. The Black Rhino Range Expansion Project (BRREP) has established eleven black rhino populations since 2003. Some more recent populations remain relatively small, whilst the more established populations contain one, and in some instances, two generations of offspring that require management to minimise chances of inbreeding and ensure continued stable or increasing heterozygosity. We established DNA profiles of ten BRREP populations, with founding rhinos originating from KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. Genetic diversity varied considerably across populations, paternity patterns showed a clear trend towards dominant bull(s) fathering calves, the relatedness of founder animals was higher than anticipated in some cases, and anomalies such as potentially infertile bulls have been identified. This information has been used to compile a genetic management plan that can guide reserve managers in making pragmatic population management decisions alongside other factors, such as population numbers and sex ratios. Efforts are now being made to profile the genetics of a number of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife source populations to further understand the broader genetic diversity of the province's metapopulation and inform future decisions on the selection of rhinos for exchange between Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife parks and for BRREP translocations.

Spatial understanding of black rhino can inform management at multiple scales
12:00 - 12:15
Presented by :
Nikki Le Roex, SANParks

Spatial data can be used to inform wildlife management and security at multiple spatial scales. We illustrate the application of spatial analyses with two examples for black rhino: (1) predicting ecological traps (high-risk areas) across southern Kruger National Park, and (2) understanding space-use under resource-limited conditions. Ecological traps occur when areas preferentially selected by a species harbour unknown increased mortality risk. If animals continue to utilise these habitats, population declines may result. We used live rhino and carcasses observations to define risk areas for black and white rhinos. Species-specific risk areas were condensed into management categories that reflect the actions most likely to be effective for the protection of both species. 'Threat' area (ecological traps for both species) comprised 32.48% of southern Kruger; this represents the highest priority for anti-poaching interventions. A further 31.03% was identified as 'haven' (safe harbours for both species), which may benefit most from monitoring and biological management. The distribution of forage and water across a landscape shapes space-use for many species. Herbivores must make trade-offs between travelling long distances to water and obtaining preferred forage when resources are limited. We used telemetry data to compare seasonal home range size, overlap and site fidelity for black rhino and used the results to understand whether surface water or forage is the primary factor influencing space-use. We found distinct seasonal differences, both within home range size and area utilised. Smaller home ranges and higher site fidelity in the dry season suggest that surface water is the primary resource driving these differences, i.e. black rhino restrict rather than increase their movement in resource-limited conditions. The influence of permanent water on space-use by black rhino should be considered when planning re-introduction programmes and estimating the capacity of small reserves.

Harvesting black rhino populations in KwaZulu-Natal - results and lessons learned
12:15 - 12:30
Presented by :
Peter Goodman, Wildlife Conservation Solutions

Re-establishment of a species' population back to its previous range requires a sustainable supply of animals from donor sites. Past range expansions of black rhino undertaken by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife into protected areas in KwaZulu-Natal and elsewhere in South Africa and Zimbabwe were accomplished through ad hoc removals from donor populations. The requirements of the WWF Black Rhino Range Expansion Programme were for a constant (annual) supply of suitable animals from donor populations for population re-establishment on suitable custodian properties. To meet this demand, Ezemvelo adopted a proportional harvesting strategy (as opposed to constant number harvesting) as it was easier to justify from a policy perspective and provided an easily understood quantitative framework for assessing the impact of the harvesting and therefore adaptively manage the harvesting programme. Initially, six donor populations were harvested. This was reduced to four when it became evident that the reproductive response to harvesting of two populations on low nutrient status soil settings was poor, and three when poaching subsumed the full live harvest from a third population. In the 13 years between 2004 and 2017 (when the first recipient populations commenced harvesting), 186 rhino were removed and re-established. This number increased to 213 by the end of 2018 with the commencement of harvesting of populations established by the range expansion programme. The programme aimed for a harvest rate of 5% from donor populations, but in the first 13 years, this varied between a minimum and maximum of 2.7 and 6.4%. Important lessons have emerged:

  • Population harvesting requires quality population monitoring data requiring careful curation and analysis.
  • Not all populations respond in the same manner to harvesting.
  • Management at all levels must be flexible enough to be able to respond to change.
13:00 - 14:00
Marquee
Lunch
14:00 - 15:30
Rholands Hall
Session 26: Special Session: Lead (Pb) in Wildlife and the Environment - Working Towards Ensuring that African Wildlife is not Harmed by Exposure to Lead
Format : Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Speakers
Xander Combrink, Tshwane University Of Technology
Arjun Amar, University Of Cape Town
Linda Van Den Heever, BirdLife South Africa
Jarryd Alexander, Mabula Ground Hornbill Project
Kerri Wolter, VulPro NPC
Moderators
Ian Rushworth, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

Lead (Pb) is a heavy metal that is increasingly being demonstrated to be harmful to wildlife and humans. While this issue has received significant attention in Europe, North America and other parts of the world, it has received relatively little attention in Africa. Recent studies on vultures, crocodiles and mammals in southern Africa have recorded high levels of lead, and bullets, fishing sinkers and mine pollution have been implicated, but a full analysis of sources of lead has not been conducted, nor has the impact of lead at a population level or in other groups of organisms been assessed.

The purpose of this interactive session is to:

  • Provide an overview of physiological processes and impacts of lead in wildlife
  • Present a global overview of lead sources and issues related to lead in wildlife, people and the environment, including an assessment of efforts to reduce exposure of wildlife to lead
  • Present the results of recent southern African studies evaluating the presence and impact of lead on wildlife and the environment
  • Discuss a research framework in relation to understanding the sources, impacts and alternatives to lead
  • Discuss a monitoring framework for assessing progress towards ensuring that wildlife is not harmed by exposure to lead
  • Discuss an integrated, multidisciplinary approach towards achieving a vision that South African wildlife is not harmed by exposure to lead.

Delegates are invited to attend the session to become more familiar with the details and issues relating to lead in wildlife, and contribute to interactive discussions towards developing strategies and approaches to ensuring that wildlife is not harmed by exposure to lead.

Blood lead concentrations in free-ranging Nile crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus) from northeastern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
14:00 - 14:15
Presented by :
Xander Combrink, Tshwane University Of Technology
Co-authors :
Jonathan Warner, Texas Parks And Wildlife Department
Jan Myburgh, University Of Pretoria
Colleen Downs, University Of KwaZulu-Natal

Generally, crocodilians have received little attention with regard to the effects of lead toxicity despite their trophic status as apex, generalist predators that utilise both aquatic and terrestrial habitats, thereby exposing them to a potentially wide range of environmental contaminants. During July - October 2010, we collected whole blood from 34 sub-adult and adult free-ranging Nile crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus) from three separate populations in northeastern South Africa in order to analyse their blood lead concentrations (BPb). Concentrations ranged from below detectability ( < 3 μg/dL, n = 8) to 960 μg/dL for an adult male at the Lake St Lucia Estuary. Blood lead concentrations averaged 8.15 μg/dL (SD = 7.47) for females and 98.10 μg/dL (SD = 217.42) for males. Eighteen individuals (53%) had elevated BPbs (≥10 μg/dL). We assessed 12 general linear models using Akaike's Information Criterion (AIC) and found no significant statistical effects among the parameters of sex, crocodile size and population sampled. On average, crocodiles had higher BPbs at Lake St Lucia than at Ndumo Game Reserve or Kosi Bay, which we attribute to lead sinker ingestion during normal gastrolith acquisition. No clinical effects of lead toxicosis were observed in these crocodiles, even though the highest concentration (960 μg/dL) we report represents the most elevated BPb recorded to date for a free-ranging vertebrate. Although we suggest adult Nile crocodiles are likely tolerant of elevated Pb body burdens, experimental studies on other crocodilian species suggest the BPb levels reported here may have harmful or fatal effects to egg development and hatchling health. In light of recent Nile crocodile nesting declines in South Africa, we urge further BPb monitoring and ecotoxicology research on reproductive females and embryos.

Association between hunting and elevated blood lead levels in the critically endangered African white-backed vulture Gyps africanus
14:15 - 14:30
Presented by :
Arjun Amar, University Of Cape Town
Co-authors :
Beckie Garbett
Glyn Maude

Lead (Pb) toxicity caused by the ingestion of Pb ammunition fragments in carcasses and offal is a threat to scavenging birds across the globe. African vultures are in critical decline, but research on whether Pb exposure is contributing to declines is lacking. In Africa, recreational hunting represents an important economic activity and can support conservation objectives; however, Pb in leftover hunted carcasses and gut piles represents a dangerous food source for vultures. It is therefore important to establish whether recreational hunting is associated with Pb exposure in African vultures. We explored this issue for the critically endangered white-backed vulture (Gyps africanus) in Botswana by examining their blood Pb levels inside and outside of the hunting season, and inside and outside of private hunting areas. From 566 birds captured and tested, 30.2% birds showed elevated Pb levels (10 to < 45 μg/dl) and 2.3% showed subclinical exposure (≥45 μg/dl). Higher blood Pb levels were associated with samples taken inside of the hunting season and from within hunting areas. Additionally, there was a significant interaction between hunting season and areas, with Pb levels declining more steeply between hunting and non-hunting seasons within hunting areas than outside them. Thus, all our results were consistent with the suggestion that elevated Pb levels in this critically endangered African vulture are associated with recreational hunting. Pb is known to be highly toxic to scavenging birds and thus we need to urgently explore ways to reduce exposure to Pb ammunition to help protect this rapidly declining group of birds.

Blood and bone lead levels in South Africa's vulture species
14:30 - 14:45
Presented by :
Linda Van Den Heever, BirdLife South Africa
Co-authors :
Andrew McKechnie
Hanneline Smit-Robinson, BirdLife South Africa
Vinny Naidoo

Lead is a toxic heavy metal that serves no known biological function in any living organism. Its usefulness and malleability as a metal have made it pervasive in many aspects of human society and industry, despite the fact that its harmful effects on human and animal health have been well-documented. As obligate scavengers, vultures are especially susceptible to dietary toxins, including lead poisoning. The insidious nature of lead poisoning could lead to a range of difficult-to-diagnose symptoms in birds, ranging in severity from mild to severe and even fatal. We conducted a nationwide assessment of the levels of lead toxicosis in South Africa's birds in general, and in vultures in particular. Blood and bone lead samples indicate that a significant proportion of white-backed vulture (Gyps africanus) and Cape vulture (G. coprotheres) are displaying elevated lead levels. Non-vulture species, across all tissue types sampled, showed lead levels that are consistent with background exposure, suggesting that certain elements of vulture ecology, such as their scavenging lifestyle, are making them particularly vulnerable to lead poisoning. Of particular concern were the high lead levels found amongst the unfledged chicks of a white-backed vulture breeding colony near Kimberley. Since these chicks are not yet mobile and display degrees of lead poisoning ranging from background to severe, we suggest that these chicks are not merely ingesting lead from diffuse sources such as dust from mining activities, but are also receiving metallic lead particles from carrion fed to them by their parents. Our findings point to fragmented lead ammunition as the probable source of the lead poisoning.

Lead toxicosis in southern ground-hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri) in South Africa
14:45 - 15:00
Presented by :
Jarryd Alexander, Mabula Ground Hornbill Project
Co-authors :
Katja Koeppel, University Of Pretoria
Lucy Kemp, Mabula Ground Hornbill Project

In 2016 an adult southern ground-hornbill (SGH; Bucorvus leadbeateri) presented with acute lead toxicosis due to lead particles in the gizzard, which required chelation treatment. The source of the lead, in this case, was a carcass of a porcupine that had been killed with lead shot. This was the first documented case of lead toxicosis in SGH. Subsequently, a further six wild birds have presented with clinical signs, and five have been successfully treated. Three additional instances in captivity have been documented. Ground-hornbill populations are declining from a myriad of anthropogenic threats, and this, coupled with slow reproductive rates and extensive habitat requirements, has resulted in the uplisting of SGH conservation status to globally Vulnerable and regionally Endangered. Vulnerability to lead toxicosis is now considered a recognised, and preventable, threat to SGH. Their foraging and social behaviours make then vulnerable to lead poisoning from both lead bullet fragments and shotgun pellets. As a result of these incidences, every individual handled as part of the research and monitoring conducted by the Mabula Ground Hornbill Project, is routinely tested in the field for blood-lead using a portable field lead analyser. Any individual with a blood-lead level greater than 10 μg/dL is chelated, as this is the minimum level where clinical signs have been observed. In 13 randomly sampled wild SGH, 12 showed no lead exposure, suggesting no general environmental exposure, but rather infrequent or occasional encounters. Through working with custodians in the SGH range, a movement toward the use of lead-free ammunition and/or safe disposal of carcasses or offal where lead may be present is being promoted. Other potential sources of lead still need to be investigated but in the interim ensuring that SGH are not exposed to lead from bullets from any source should be a priority conservation action.

Towards establishing background lead exposure in South African vultures
15:00 - 15:05
Presented by :
Kerri Wolter, VulPro NPC
Co-authors :
Vinny Naidoo

Documenting cases of the elevated exposure of vultures to lead, and making decisions regarding the treatment of exposed birds, requires an understanding of natural baseline blood lead levels. This has not yet been done for vultures in South Africa. To address this gap, blood lead levels of 105 vultures of two species held in captivity have so far been tested, and testing is ongoing. These captive birds are fed a diet free of bullet lead fragments, there is no environmental exposure to possible concentrated sources of lead (e.g. batteries, bullets, sinkers), and there is no lead-containing paint used in the enclosures. Therefore the blood lead levels are reasonably assumed to represent baseline environmental exposure. The results, when obtained, will be used to inform the standard operating procedure for testing and treatment of lead-exposed wildlife.

14:00 - 15:30
Chapel
Session 27: Management of Protected Areas
Format : Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Speakers
Ricky Taylor, University Of Zululand
Sue Janse Van Rensburg, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
Paul Cryer, African Conservation Trust
Dave Druce, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Nonhle Mngadi, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Petros Ngwenya, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Moderators
Shiven Rambarath, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Lake Mgobezeleni, peat deposits and swamp forest clearing
14:00 - 14:15
Presented by :
Ricky Taylor, University Of Zululand

Nestled in the dunes at Sodwana, is the beautiful Lake Mgobezeleni, one of the more spectacular features within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park World Heritage Site. Peripheral to the lake are magnificent swamp forests, with sprawling hippopotamus figs and Pel's fishing owls. Yet it is inaccessible and is visited by few people. This presentation reports on insights gained from a recently completed Water Research Commission study. The Mgobezeleni lake basin was formed by a sequence of geological processes driven by sea-level changes. The lake has a constant supply of groundwater seeping from a sand catchment. This creates an environment suitable for peat accumulation. Lake Mgobezeleni, and the nearby Lake Shazibe, are open-water lakes within the peat-infilled ancestral marine embayment. The peat supports extensive swamp forests. However, all is not well within this system. There is an ever-increasing clearing of the swamp forests for the planting of crops. This was at a subsistence scale but is now becoming commercial. A consequence of the drainage ditches, dug when planting crops, is the drying and loss of peat. This could lead to the scenario where the plug-effect of the peat is lost, resulting in hydrological changes to Lake Mgobezeleni. These include a lowering of mean water level and seawater intrusion. This is not a simple issue to manage as there is a disputed boundary between the park and the neighbouring community. A possible solution is to allow community members to have access to Lake Mgobezeleni to provide nature tourism. Hopefully, this would give an economic incentive for the community to support the conservation of the lake and swamp forests. Our research provides the knowledge base to support such an initiative, but can we communicate this knowledge to managers and the community in such a manner that it can be applied?

Lake Sibaya: Should we be planning for day zero?
14:15 - 14:30
Presented by :
Sue Janse Van Rensburg, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
Co-authors :
Siphiwe Mfeka, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
Mark Schapers, J.G. Afrika
Michele Toucher, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
LIndiwe Nkabane, UKZN

Lake Sibaya, on the northern Maputaland coastal plain, is South Africa's largest freshwater lake. It is embedded within a largely groundwater-driven region, historically rich in wetlands, swamp forest and peatlands. While the lake itself falls within the Isimangaliso World Heritage Park, due to the nature of the interconnected sandy aquifer, surrounding land use in the "buffer zone" that impacts on the regional water table, impacts on the lake level. Since 2000 the lake level has been declining, drastically so in recent years. In 2013 SAEON initiated an observation research network on the Maputaland coastal plain and this has now been expanded to include catchment W70A within which Lake Sibaya falls. Our primary question is: "what are the relative impacts of land use and climate on the ecosystem services the region provides?" There is a rich history of research in the region on which to build long-term trends. We have adopted a social learning approach to implementing the platform, working with local industry and tribal councils. We present an overview of the trends in climatic and groundwater data, relative to the historic context. Challenges with historic data sets that have hindered previous work are elucidated, and we share how we are overcoming this through data archaeology. Several process level research projects initiated to address the relative impacts are introduced. We highlight some of the successes of the social learning process. There is a good understanding within the local community of how certain land uses may be contributing to a declining water table. Climate change threats are not yet well understood. Pivotal to the long-term success and resilience of people living in the region is disrupting coercive external influences that are degrading the area and diversifying economic livelihoods based on ecosystems based adaptation.

Wilderness management in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park
14:30 - 14:45
Presented by :
Paul Cryer, African Conservation Trust
Dave Druce, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

In 2009 the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park introduced a revised management system for its 30000ha wilderness area. Because of conflicting objectives associated with minimising biodiversity impact, management of priority species, educational/recreational use and law enforcement, it was decided to use the Limits of Acceptable Change system. This system was specifically developed to deal with conflicting objectives and simultaneously address inadequacies that had been encountered in applying the carrying capacity concept to human impact. For the last ten year's human impact has been monitored with respect to specific indicators, with interventions being implemented when acceptable standards were not met. The appropriateness of the Limits of Acceptable Change system is reviewed against three criteria: its effectiveness within South African environmental legislation and protected area management planning; its effectiveness as a tool for protected area managers to enforce defendable decisions; and lastly its effectiveness in holding managers accountable for the protection of wilderness. The Limits of Acceptable Change system has proved to be a complicated monitoring and management system around which there is much misunderstanding. It has limitations in that it is only sensitive to issues that are predefined and with new impacts emerging within and outside the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, this has revealed deficiencies. In spite of this, it has proved to be a useful tool in prioritising objectives, measuring impacts and providing managers with defendable mechanisms to protect the wilderness area. Our assessment would be to use the Limits of Acceptable Change system where there are conflicting objectives and avoid it when there are not. These findings are shared with a view to assessing the usefulness of the Limits of Acceptable Change system in other wilderness management settings and against the backdrop of shifting perspectives regarding the wilderness concept within the developing world.

Investigating factors influencing the increasing cases of illegal cattle grazing at Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife protected areas in KwaZulu-Natal province
14:45 - 15:00
Presented by :
Nonhle Mngadi, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

Illegal cattle grazing inside protected areas has become a crucial management issue for many conservation organisations. Cattle ownership is an integral part of rural livelihoods and, in general, cattle production in South Africa contributes substantially to food security. Although traditionally in some areas livestock and wildlife have coexisted, there are concerns about land-use competition, disease transmission, and predation. Illegal cattle grazing within Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife protected areas boundaries is among one of the biggest concerns for successful management of these protected areas. Ezemvelo has the legal right to impound cattle found in a protected area, but doing so has often caused great conflict with local communities. There have been useful engagements with cattle owners but despite that, the illegal grazing continues. The effectiveness of protecting and managing protected areas relies, amongst other things, on engaging and understanding communities to influence friendly behaviour. Consequently, this requires knowledge of what factors influence attitude and behaviour towards protected areas. This study investigated drivers behind the increasing incidence of illegal cattle grazing in Ezemvelo protected areas. Study sites were communities adjacent to Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve, Ophathe Game Reserve and Impendle Nature Reserve, and exploratory research was done using qualitative data and semi-structured interviews. Preliminary findings indicate drivers behind illegal cattle grazing to be those of legal ignorance, population growth, land claim issues, failure to change the behaviour of local communities, and communities not identifying with benefits of a protected area. There is potential for finding favourable solutions for both Ezemvelo and cattle owners, such as negotiating alternative options and conducting comprehensive awareness on conservation and the benefits of a protected area.

Implications of uncontrolled livestock grazing on veld condition in protected areas: The Isandlwana Nature Reserve case (2009 - 2019)
15:00 - 15:15
Presented by :
Petros Ngwenya, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

Veld condition has been measured at Isandlwana Nature Reserve at five-yearly intervals to monitor the long-term changes in rangeland condition within the protected area (PA) in relation to grazing pressure and associated environmental conditions. Ten 30 m x 30 m permanent plots were established and surveyed since 2009, using the step point technique, to sample herbaceous species composition as well as tree density. The benchmark method was used for veld condition analysis. A total count of trees/woody plants was conducted within each 30 m x 30 m plot per height class (i.e. < 0.5; 0.5 - 1; 1 - 1.5; 1.5 - 2 and > 2m). The results indicate that veld condition has continually and drastically declined on 90% of the ten monitoring plots since the inception of the monitoring in 2009, suggesting that veld condition has declined in approximately 90% of the protected area. The mean veld condition score (VCS) for the PA has declined from 48% in 2009 to 28% in 2014 and 30% in 2019 respectively. Such drastic decline in VCS is attributed to the sustained livestock overgrazing with around 400 cattle, 300 goats and 70 sheep on the PA despite the calculated carrying capacity of the PA being 122 animal units (AUs), excluding about 100 AUs of wildlife already stocked on the PA. The severe overgrazing has led to accelerated bush encroachment (especially of Vachellia karroo, Euclea crispa and Diospyros spp.), reduced basal cover and soil erosion. Despite the existence of a grazing agreement at Isandlwana Nature Reserve, the current situation highlights the serious implications of livestock grazing in PAs.

14:00 - 15:30
Dining Room
Session 28: Special Session: Convening Learning Partnerships for Effective Collaborative Action in Critical Catchments
Format : Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Speakers
Sue Viljoen, WWF-SA
Hlengiwe Ndlovu, WWF South Africa
Brent Corcoran, Mondi Pty Ltd
Moderators
David Lindley, WWF South Africa
Lessons learnt in mainstreaming water stewardship in the dairy industry
14:00 - 14:15
Presented by :
Sue Viljoen, WWF-SA

The dairy industry in South Africa coincides largely with the coastal higher rainfall coastal provinces due to its reliance on large quantities of irrigation water to support pasture production. WWF South Africa began engaging with this sector in 2014 after a scoping study in KwaZulu-Natal indicated that out of five agricultural sectors, dairy potentially has had the highest impact on water resources. Furthermore, the dairy sector has had no sustainability system or industry standards in place. WWF South Africa initiated a pilot study in 2015 amongst 14 volunteer dairy farms in the Karkloof and Upper Mooi catchments to assess irrigation efficiency and waste handling effectiveness. This provided valuable insights into the technical opportunities for improving water and waste management and gave WWF South Africa credibility as a source of valuable information. Through investing in building relationships within the industry structures, WWF South Africa was invited to present at industry meetings and events. This led to a working partnership with the Milk Producers Organisation (MPO), precipitated by a change in MPO leadership. WWF had to work hard initially to alleviate mistrust by farmers that WWF South Africa's interest as a conservation NGO was to monitor illegal activities. WWF South Africa has now established a trusting relationship between an environmental NGO and the dairy sector for the first time. WWF South Africa's neutral role of convener and facilitator has enabled highly competitive dairy companies to come together to collaborate on water management through the formation of a dairy water stewardship working group. This working group has provided a safe place for learning and sharing best practices, with the ultimate aim of strengthening self-regulation in the industry at the farm and factory levels. Lessons learnt along the journey with the dairy sector will be shared including mechanisms that have catalysed change and insights useful for extension staff and conservation practitioners.

Collaborating with the forestry sector for water stewardship
14:15 - 14:30
Presented by :
Hlengiwe Ndlovu, WWF South Africa

South Africa is a water-scarce country and has an uneven distribution of rainfall. Most of this rainfall is concentrated in high catchment areas known as strategic water source areas, which produce disproportionately greater volumes of surface run-off in relation to their size. Strategic water source areas cover 10% of the country's land surface and produce 50% of the water in wetlands, streams and rivers. Strategic water source areas are productive landscapes being utilised for numerous human activities including plantation forestry. A significant proportion of the country's forestry operations are located in the water source areas with water-stressed catchments downstream that are increasingly facing competition from different users, presenting challenges to the security of supply. It is recognised that even the most legally compliant and certified forestry operations can be a high-impact activity in water-stressed catchments. It is with this understanding that WWF South Africa is working with the forestry sector to strengthen water stewardship practices within plantation areas, through enabling collaboration within the sector and its value chains and across to other water users in these catchments.

Water stewardship through public-private catchment partnerships: Mondi, WWF South Africa and the uMhlathuze Catchment
14:30 - 14:45
Presented by :
Brent Corcoran, Mondi Pty Ltd

Water is a scarce resource in South Africa, with rainfall often subject to significant drought cycles. Climate change perturbations and the poor performance of water resource management institutions exacerbate this scarcity, including in the country's strategic water source areas. This frequently results in water crises in South Africa's economic strategic areas. The uMhlathuze Catchment is one such region. Mondi and WWF South Africa have been working with other partners to identify and address water resource management issues to ensure that the catchment is more resilient when the next drought hits the Zululand region. We explore the Mondi-WWF South Africa partnership journey from the early days of the Mondi Wetlands Programme (WESSA and WWF South Africa) to the present WWF Water Stewardship Partnership which is now focused on landscape-scale catchment approaches to water stewardship. We address site and ecosystem approaches, to landscape catchment-based partnerships for more effective water stewardship at scale by all water users. In parallel, we reflect on Mondi's own water stewardship journey, from wetlands management to considering external benchmarks for water stewardship, to working beyond our fence-line into catchment partnerships.

15:30 - 16:00
Main Deck, Foyer Area & Lower Deck
Afternoon Tea
16:00 - 17:30
Rholands Hall
Session 29: Closing Plenary
Format : Oral Presentations | Moderated Discussion
Speakers
Sudhir Ghoorah, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Timothy O'Connor, South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
Moderators
Oscar Mthimkhulu, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
The impact of the fourth industrial revolution on society
16:15 - 16:45
Presented by :
Sudhir Ghoorah, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
19:00 - 22:00
Marquee
Awards Ceremony & Gala Dinner
Friday, 08 Nov 2019
08:00 - 08:30
Main Deck, Foyer Area & Lower Deck
Registration
08:30 - 15:00
Rholands Hall
Karkloof Co-Management Guided Walk and Talk
08:30 - 16:30
Dining Room
R for Conservationists: including teas and lunch

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