Conservation at Bucklands



Conservation at Bucklands

Bucklands Private Game Reserve was originally a stock farm prior to 2007. Good farming and stock management practices, as well as the farmers overall conservation ethics, resulted in minimal damage being inflicted with regards to overgrazing, the introduction of exotic species and general veld degradation and hence the natural veld components and the variety of animals, birds and insect life have remained in a relatively pristine condition; thereby lending itself very well to further and improved conservation management of what is today Bucklands Private Game Reserve and the protection of, above all, its endemic species.

The landscape consists of steep river valleys with inter-basin ridges. The river valleys contain nutrient rich mudstones and the general geology is predominantly grey/red mudstone and sandstone of the Middleton formation (Adelaide Subgroup: Karoo Super Group), with sandstone dominating the formation. More resistant sandstones occur on the inter-basin ridges. Clayey, dystrophic soils occur throughout the area and alluvial silt is deposited on the river banks. Fertility is generally good however some soils are underlined by shallow shale banks and are easily eroded.

Bucklands Private Game Reserve has identified the need for a long term conservation plan so as to monitor and adapt the underlying conservation ethic with regards to its natural integrity and ecotourism conservation:-

A comprehensive study of the vegetation and habitat types on Bucklands Private Game Reserve was compiled by an independent consultant in December 2007, so as to establish the broad mammal habitats on Bucklands Private Game Reserve, as well as estimated carrying capacities, road infrastructure and water points. Information regarding proposed lodge sites and other relevant issues were also discussed within the study parameters.

The main habitat types found within Bucklands Private Game Reserve are:-

Bucklands Closed Great Fish Thicket
This vegetation type is confined to the steep slopes along the Great Fish River to the north and south of Bucklands. It comprises virtually impenetrable areas, where both the woody trees and shrubs and the succulent component are well developed.

Bucklands Open Great Fish Thicket
This vegetation type is the dominant habitat type, covering approximately 67% of the property. It is similar in composition and structure to Bucklands Closed Great Fish Thicket, with the noticeable exception being the opening-up of the thicket-clumps.

Bucklands Grassy Bontveld
This vegetation type is most prevalent on the higher lying areas (to the north and south) where varying soil depths give rise to a patchy landscape consisting of an open grassy matrix interspersed with near-circular, low 2-3 m high bush clumps.

Bucklands Karroid Scrub
This is an ecotonal habitat (i.e. containing elements from both Bucklands Open Great Fish Thicket and Bucklands Disturbance Savanna/Bucklands Riverine Thicket) that is prevalent on the arid, mildly sloping flanks of ridges supporting Bucklands Open Great Fish Thicket. It is characterized by a low (<3 m), sparse succulent thicket, with a mosaic of low karoo scrub. This habitat is very much more arid than the previous habitats.

Bucklands Riverine Thicket and Bucklands Disturbance Savanna
These vegetation types occur on the banks of the Great Fish River. Floristically, these habitats are similar; being dominated by Senegalia karroo (characteristic of Bucklands Riverine Thicket) they give way to an open savanna, on sandy soils with a well developed grass layer. Both habitats are vulnerable to occasional flooding. Primary productivity within these habitats may be highly variable due the winter-deciduous nature of Senegalia karroo. These two habitats are highly linear in their distribution along the river, and are both subject to extensive disturbance through flooding and are attractive to a broad range of herbivores. Flooding is the primary determinant of plant community structure in this habitat.