The Population Dynamics of the Luangwa (Zambia) Common Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) during the Period 1952 – 2015

The population size of hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius Linnaeus 1758) in Zambia’s Luangwa valley was previously assessed for the period 1976-2008 and repeated 2009-2015, and it was discovered to have reached and maintained a carrying capacity K of 6000 individuals over a 165 km river stretch. The riverbank count method, as used in previous studies, was used in this study, which spanned the years 2009 to 2015. In 1976, a 165-kilometer stretch of land was set aside for intensive population monitoring using the same survey methods. The results of this monitoring revealed that the population experienced high densities of up to 42 hippopotami/km between 1976 and 2008. The method entailed counting individuals and locating hippopotamus schools using GPS. During the period 2009-2015, the population oscillated in irregular cycles above and below K of 6000, remaining within the carrying capacity band of 3000 people are involved. The highest population size was 7,862 hippopotami with a density of 48/km in 2015, and the lowest population size was 4501 hippopotami with a density of 27/km in 1978. Between 1976 and 2008, and 2009 and 2015, the population fluctuated between 5000 and 8000 people, indicating that the population had reached its asymptote. Plot of population size from 1976 to 2015 using a population model that was a hybrid of less accurate regulation and a stable limit cycle. Environmental resistance was blamed for the slowing of population growth at K and the oscillations. More research is needed to determine the impact of climate change on population size and density fluctuations in order to determine whether K will rise or fall.

Author (s) Details

Chansa Chomba
School of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Mulungushi University, Kabwe, Zambia

Twakundine Simpamba
Department of Research, Chinzombo Research Centre, Mfuwe, Zambia.

Vincent Nyirenda
Department of Research, Planning, Information and Veterinary Services, Chilanga, Zambia.

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