Biological invasions in South Africa’s National Parks

Biological invasions in South Africa’s National Parks
Llewellyn C. FOXCROFT1,2, Nicola van Wilgen3, Chad Cheney4, Brian W. van Wilgen2, Johan A. Baard5, Nicholas Cole6.
1Conservation Services, Skukuza, South African National Parks
2Centre for Invasion Biology, Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch University
3Scientific Services, Cape Research Centre, South African National Parks
4Planning Department, Table Mountain National Park, South African National Parks
5Conservation Services, Knysna, South African National Parks
6Biodiversity Social Projects, George, South African National Parks

The South African National Parks (SANParks) estate includes 19 national parks, covering about 39,000 km2. SANParks has a primary mandate of biodiversity conservation and providing human benefits, and invasions by alien species compromise the ability of the organisation to achieve these objectives. All 19 national parks have been invaded by alien plants, while alien mammals occur in 18, and alien birds in 17 parks. While not all are invasive, about 781 alien species (including 76 extralimital species) have been recorded across SANParks. The majority of alien species (663) are plants, followed by mammals (26, including extralimitals), gastropods (19) and freshwater fish (16). Kruger National Park (400) and TMNP (291) have the highest number of alien and invasive species. SANParks are governed by the legislative requirements of NEM:PA (No. 57 of 2003), and NEM:BA (Act No. 10 of 2003) and its associated Regulations (2014), both requiring landowners to develop plans for the control, eradication and monitoring of alien and invasive species. The 2014 NEM:BA regulations however pose substantial challenges. The regulations list 559 invasive and 560 prohibited species, of which 204 plants and 32 animals are found within SANParks. Kruger National Park and TMNP have over 100 listed species, and more than 80 species each listed as category 1a or b. SANParks has developed a framework in an attempt to comply with the NEMBA legislation, whereby each species is prioritised and assigned to the group of species for which prevention, monitoring, containment, asset protection or local extirpation is planned.