Population dynamics

A sound understanding of the population dynamics of wildlife species is important for effective management strategies

An assessment of the population structure of some wildlife species is often combined with ground counts which then also allows an opportunity to evaluate population estimates. This can, of course, also supplement aerial count data if required. A reliable population estimate is an important component of any population or demographic study.

The collection of basic data on the population structure of many of the larger African mammals need not be particularly time-consuming or costly. Such data, typically age and sex categories, are collected by direct observations when a representative proportion of a population is sampled. This allows for the calculation of age and sex ratios.

Information on the population structure or demographics of wildlife populations is becoming increasingly important for wildlife conservation and effective population management strategies. This is especially true when populations are utilised for activities such as game capture and relocation, culling and trophy hunting, and sustainable utilisation in general.

Reliable population data also are essential for population modelling purposes.

It is often necessary to assess the population dynamics of certain species. Age and sex categories to construct a life table can be effectively determined through field sampling.

Population surveys for determining the population structure have been undertaken for a number of large mammal species in several African countries. These include buffalo, impala, gerenuk, lesser kudu, Grant’s gazelle, Thomson’s gazelle, zebra, tsessebe, lion, amongst others.

Successful population structure assessments have been done for buffalo. These included age and sex classification, as well as estimates of adult buffalo horn spread by means of a photographic technique.

Age ratios also allow an assessment of the year’s production (depending on the timing of the data collection) and survival which is fundamental information in population dynamics.

Age and sex classifications can, to some degree, provide an assessment of an animal’s response to its environment.