Assessment of roadkills in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Mkhohlwa, Muzi Nicholas.
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Anthropogenic land-use activities are considered to be the main contributor to current worldwide changes in natural ecosystems. South Africa is one of the countries that has been severely affected by changing land-use. The changes in land-use in South Africa are driven primarily by the need to provide food, water, and shelter to a growing human population and for economic growth. However, consequences of such actions impact biodiversity negatively with effects that lead to habitat fragmentation, loss of wildlife habitats, wildlife mortalities and species declines. One factor that contributes negatively is the increased number of roads and associated traffic. This study was conducted in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park (HIP), KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, to assess roadkills on roads of the park. We conducted monthly roadkill surveys on three main roads (R618 corridor road traversing the HIP, paved road from Memorial Gate to Hilltop Resort, and an unpaved road from Memorial Gate to Isivivaneni Lookout) within HIP for a year. Furthermore, we assessed the public’s level of awareness about roadkills using questionnaire surveys. Relatively few roadkills were reported in our study when compared with other studies. The taxa that were reported as roadkills included mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. The R618 corridor road traversing the HIP had the highest number of roadkills, followed by the paved road then the unpaved road within park. Factors that contributed to reported roadkills were season, type of road, amount of game in the vicinity, and the distance to roadside vegetation from the road. In addition, the public showed limited awareness about roadkills occurring in HIP, but were aware of how they were expected to drive within protected area road networks. Mitigation measures such as mowing, signage, enforcement of harsh laws and introduction of fines were recommended as means that would help in the reduction of roadkills in HIP.