The population dynamics of impala (Aepyceros melampus Lichtenstein) in Mkuzi Game Reserve.
The need to understand the dynamics of the impala population in Mkuzi Game Reserve arose during the early 1960's when it became clear that various factors were contributing to an overpopulation of the species in the reserve. Population management was recognized as being necessary and was carried out, but it was based on inadequate information. This study set out to establish a rational basis for future management. The social organization and behaviour of impala in Mkuzi were analysed and placed in perspective relative to the population dynamics. Two methods of counting the animals were used and a relationship obtained between the respective results. The distribution of impala within the reserve, both on a gross population basis and with respect to the various sex and age categories, was determined from sampling. In order to establish the age structure of the population, samples obtained from the control programme were used, and these were aged on the basis of molar wear. At the same time the proportions of young animals and the population sex ratios were obtained by field sampling. Using these data, life tables were constructed, from . which it was possible to interpret the behaviour of the population at the time of the study. However, caution should be exercised in extrapolating these results literally to the same population under different conditions. The study only provides guidelines for regular monitoring to be carried out. At the same time a more detailed study of the vegetation dynamics of Mkuzi Game Reserve is a priority so that the relationship between the animal and plant elements of the reserve can be properly analysed.