DEA approves plan to 'strengthen' population of SA's endemic Cape mountain zebra

2018-03-19 08:41 - Kavitha Pillay
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Cape Town - The first Cape mountain zebra capture and relocation took place in and around De Hoop Nature reserve in 2016, and since then data has assisted in supporting strategies as part of the Biodiversity Management Plan for the species.

On Friday, 16 March, the approved Biodiversity Management Plan (BMP) for the Cape mountain zebra, for implementation in Government Gazette, was published by the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa.

SEE: Conservation management in action: Saving the Cape mountain zebra

Cape mountain zebra is a subspecies endemic to South Africa. "At the end of 2015, the Cape mountain zebra meta-population comprised approximately 4872 individuals in 76 sub-populations throughout South Africa that are well distributed over the historical range of the subspecies," says the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA).

"As a result, the Cape mountain zebra is no longer threatened with extinction, having recently been assessed as Vulnerable (D1) by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)," adds DEA.

SEE: Cape Mountain Zebra downlisted at CITES CoP17

According to the DEA, the BMP provides a "new approach" to the management of the zebra species, following the adoption of South Africa’s proposal to have the subspecies transferred from Appendix I to Appendix II at the recent 17th Conference of Parties (COP17) to CITES, held in Johannesburg.

“The Cape mountain zebra is well protected in state-owned protected areas. The two original sub-populations in Mountain Zebra National Park and Karoo National Park have doubled since 2004. The national population has increased steadily since the early 1990s, with the annual rate of increase from 2009 to 2015 measured at just over 9%,” says Molewa.

'Strategies to strengthen the overall population'

The BMP was developed by Cape Nature, SANParks, the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), academia, non-governmental organisations and private landowners.

It aims for "an increasing, genetically healthy meta-population, supporting sustainable off-takes with an increased conservation value and private sector investment in Cape mountain zebra".

The BMP also identifies actions to ensure the long-term survival of the zebra in nature, and "ensuring the sustainable, non-detrimental harvest and off-take as an economic incentive for private land owners participating in the meta-population strategy," says DEA.

The plan focuses on "strategies to strengthen the overall population performance, distribution and genetic diversity to ensure population fitness and resilience of the meta-population within the natural distribution range - including protected areas with populations outside the natural distribution range," adds DEA.

You can access an electronic copy of the Gazetted BMP Plan for Cape Mountain Zebra here.