6.1 Key indicators for measuring state of conservation
Key components of both the physical and biotic environment of the Park are monitored in order to determine the ecological state of the natural systems and to determine trends and changes over time. In terms of monitoring climate, daily records of rainfall are made at twelve stations and all unusual climatic events are recorded such as particularly heavy snowfalls. Vegetation is monitored using fixed-point photography, the annual mapping of areas burnt where the cause and season of burning are recorded, and at Royal Natal National Park the effects of burning on grassland species composition and the population dynamics of Protea Woodlands is scientifically monitored. Seasonal route count censuses of ungulates and any other mammals seen, and an annual aerial census of Eland are undertaken. The distribution, sex and age structure of the Eland population as well as all problem animal species destroyed (e.g. baboon) are recorded.
Rock art sites within the Park are regularly monitored by at least an annual inspection and the completion of a Rock Art Site Card in order to determine whether any impacts are having an unacceptable effect on these cultural resources. Sites are assessed to determine use by people, the affects of vegetation or wild animals, interference with the rock art, or if any water damage that is apparent. Appropriate management actions are then undertaken.
Monitoring of the consumptive use of natural products is undertaken. Areas and the amount in kilograms harvested are recorded for thatching grass, reeds, firewood (alien species), leaves (Hypoxis sp) and medicinal plants.
In terms of management actions undertaken by staff in the various component areas of the Park several activities are monitored, including the areas, species and treatments of alien plant infestations, the areas and sites of soil erosion reclamation, the species and numbers of animals poached or removed by live capture (eg eland) for restocking purposes, the numbers of feral dogs and cats destroyed, and numbers of stock animals removed that had entered the Park from neighbouring areas.
6.2 Administrative arrangements for monitoring property
Staff within each component area of the Park are required annually to review the management programmes (including research and monitoring programmes) which stem from the protected area management plan that were undertaken during the previous reporting year and formulate their programme for the current year. Management goals are set and reported on in the following year. These programmes are tailored according to resources (budgets, staff, and time) availability. A detailed annual report is compiled for each component protected area which collectively form a document called the yearbook. The yearbooks are used for compiling the annual report of the KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation Service which is submitted to the Minister and members of the Provincial Legislature.
6.3 Results of previous reporting exercises
The results of monitoring and reporting are contained in a long series of yearbooks for the respective past financial years. These are housed in the library at the headquarters in Pietermaritzburg and at stations in the KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation Service. The results are used to up-date management plans, formulate future management programmes or actions as well as monitoring and or research programmes.
A collection of slides has been provided (attached) and several of these have been selected to illustrate this document.
7.2 Management plans
Management plans included as part of the documentation are :
Appendix 5 – Drakensberg Park Management Plan
Appendix 6 – Cultural Resources Management Plan for the Drakensberg Park
A bibliography of publications on the Drakensberg is given in Appendix 4.
7.4 Address where inventories and records are held
Records are kept at both the headquarters and the offices at management stations in the Park.