Welcome the seventeenth edition of Shakati Bush Facts. In this edition we will be looking at the Savannahs’ of Shakati. Shakati have several savannah plains, which includes: Blesbok plain, Elands Hoogte, Impala Plain, Koedoes vlakte, River Plain and Wildebeest plain.
What is a Savannah?
The word Savannah comes from the latin name Zauana, and was first used by a Englishman Peter Martyr, which reported it as the local name for the plain around Comagre, the court of the cacique Carlos in present-day Panama.
A savannah consists of a mixed woodland grassland ecosystem. The trees or bush are sufficiently widely spaced so that the canopy does not close. A Savannah consist thus of primarily grass where animals can freely move around, and graze on an unbroken herbaceous layer consisting primarily of grasses. The savannah is a grassland ecosystem characterized wildly spaced trees with an open canopy covering approximately 20% or the earth surface area
Rainfall on Savannahs is usually confined to one season, and they are associated with several types of biomes, and are frequently in a transitional zone between forest and desert or grassland.
The Bushveld can be described as an open savanna of tall straight Faurea saligna trees in a tall, tufted, wiry, sour grassveld in the less rocky parts, a dense mixed bushveld in the rugged parts. It is beautiful country, but hot in spite of its altitude. The soil is of a sandy, rubbly nature.
The Waterberg Biosphere Reserve represents a considerable area of the savannah biome of Southern Africa. The savannah biome, or wooded grasslands, has a rich biodiversity with more than 5,500 species of plants, 43% of which are endemic to Southern Africa. The area is characterized by seven different vegetation types: Central Sandy Bushveld, Limpopo Sweet Bushveld, Makhado Sweet Bushveld, Roodeberg Bushveld, Waterberg Mountain Bushveld, Waterberg-Magalies Summit Sourveld and Western Sandy Bushveld.
Types of Savannahs
Shakati’s Savannah can be classified as a Tropical and Subtropical Savannahs. The other types of Savannahs include:
- Tropical and subtropical savannahs are classified with tropical and subtropical grasslands and shrublands as the tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome. The savannas of Africa, including the Serengeti, famous for its wildlife, are typical of this type.
- Mediterranean savannahs are mid-latitude savannas in Mediterranean climate regions, with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers, part of the Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub biome.
- Flooded savannahs are savannas that are flooded seasonally or year-round
- Montane savannahs are mid- to high-altitude savannas, located in a few spots around the world’s high mountain regions, part of the montane grasslands and shrublands biome
Two factors common to all savanna environments are rainfall variations from year to year, and dry season wildfires.
What can be found on our Savannahs?
Savannahs: dominated by various grasses and wood species characteristic of the open bush / woodland. Since the reserve has deep sandy soil, you will find the characteristic gray sandy tree Silver clusterleaf (Terminalia sericea), the most frequent tree of the reserve (amounts to approximately 50 % of all trees on Shakati, maybe more). It is a pioneer tree similar to birch trees in Denmark. On the savannas there are especially grazing animals like Blesbuck, Zebra, Wildebeest, Impala and Hartebeest, while browsers like Giraffe and Kudu can be seen by the trees.
Importance of Savannahs
According to SouthAfrica.net: The savannas of South Africa cover more than a third of the country, curling up around from the arid Kalahari, fattening through Limpopo and extending down through KwaZulu-Natal to the Eastern Cape. When conservation started in South Africa, it was this ecosystem that was first protected in what became the Kruger National Park over 100 years ago. This is where you’ll typically see the Big Five plus scores of other species of game, birds, reptiles and insects, as well as 100s of species of plants and trees.
The presence of large grazing animals and high diversity of bird life is characteristic to this biome. There is a Plethora of life which depends on a Savannah which included: animals (browsers, grazers and predators), birds, Trees/Shrubs, Herbs, Invertebrates, Reptiles and Amphibians.
The primary savanna areas on Shakati Private Game reserve are: Blesbok plain, Elands Hoogte, Impala Plain, Koedoes vlakte, River Plain and Wildebeest plain.
Threats to a Savannah
The following are some of the Threats to a savannah
- Uncontrolled Fires – Uncontrolled fires can cause devastation to the ecosystem. If only a part of the savannah burns then it is actually good for the ecosystem,
- Human Habitat – Humans building houses and farms on open savannahs – reduce the amount of grazing areas
- Bush Encroachment – More wooded areas occur, which reduce the grass capacity
- Possible Climate Change – Human induced climate change resulting from the greenhouse effect may result in an alteration of the structure and function of savannas. Some cases indicated a increase in Savannah areas, and some areas described an increased woody plant encroachment as a result of greenhouse induced climate change
Savannahs are an important part of the ecosystem, which supports its own unique ecosystem. Savannahs in a controlled environment must be monitored, to ensure that bush encroachment doesn’t take away this essential part of the ecosystem.
See you next time!