I have taken an interest in Hwange National Park’s Elephants. The Park is extremely overpopulated. Using the table below (@ 15% biomass) as a guide, I did some basic calculations.
Hwange size: 1 460 000ha
Elephant population estimate: 54 000
Since the table only goes up to 45 000, I have to divide 1 460 000 by 45 000 (1 460 000÷ 45 000= 32.44)
Next step, some sources have Hwange National Park’s average annual rainfall at 560mm.
Let us take an average 600mm. Following the table that would be: 150×32.44= 4866 elephants @ 15% Large Herbivore biomass. If one would want the elephants to take up 45% of the large herbivore biomass, it would be:
450×32.44= 14 598 Elephants.
If one would take drought conditions into consideration it would be 112×32.44 = 3633 Elephants @15% Large Herbivore biomass. @ 45% Large Herbivore biomass it would be 336×32.44 = 10 900 Elephants.
It is thus imperative that the Elephant population in Hwange should be maintained @ between 10 000 and 15 000. However, much damage has already been done, it might be required to bring the population down to 15% Large Herbivore Biomass, i.e. around 5000 Elephants.
Let me for sake of argument calculate the number of Elephants in Hwange @ 100% Large Herbivore Biomass in optimal conditions:
990×32.44= 32 116 (rounded)
Let that sink in. Hwange National Park has an estimated 54 000 Elephants! A catastrophic wildlife population crash is a very real possibility!
Author: Jan-Albert Viljoen. Environmental Manager.
Bothma, J.Du. P and Du Toit J.G. 2010. Game Ranch Management. Fith Edition. p.250