Chansa Chomba, Vincent Nyirenda, Griffin Shanungu, Chuma Simukonda, Moses Amos Nyirenda & Chaka Kaumba
Kafue lechwe (Kobus leche kafuensis, is and endemic sub-species of semi aquatic antelope that has been counted by aerial survey since 1931. The 2015 survey counted lechwe and other large herbivores including cattle and covered an area approximately 6, 035 km2 in extent, encompassing Blue lagoon and Lochinvar National Parks and Kafue flats Game Management Area. Historic data on population size and trophy hunting were collated and analyzed. Results showed that the population estimate in 2015 was 28,660 which was equivalent to 89% decline from the 1931 estimate of 250,000 individuals. This implies that only 11 % of the 1931 population estimate has remained, giving an annual loss of 2,464 or 7 lechwes/day of which only one lechwe was attributed to legal hunting and the remaining six to poaching an other factors. The number of cattle had increased by more than 300% from an upper limit of 18,841 in 2005 to 92,242 individuals in 2015, representing a metabolic equivalent of 272,726 lechwe. It was concluded that lechwe was facing a precipitous population decline depicting failure to regulate in terms of population dynamics. Cattle were on the other hand experiencing an almost perfect exponential growth which is likely to out-compete lechwe on the Kafue Flats. Further research is required to assess the impact of increasing cattle populations and increasing human encroachment on lechwe habitat.
Published Date: 2015-08-10;