, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 32-51

Ornamental Plants as Invasive Aliens: Problems and Solutions in Kruger National Park, South Africa

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Abstract

The most widespread invasive alien plant species in South Africa’s Kruger National Park (KNP) were either introduced unintentionally along rivers and roads, or intentionally for use as ornamentals. We examine the spatial distribution of ornamental alien plants in KNP, look at the link between human population size, history, and species richness, and show how the distribution of particular species reflects the likely history of ornamental plantings. Results are used to assess whether past management actions have been appropriately directed.

Two hundred and fifty-eight alien species have been recorded in the 36 tourist camps and staff villages. The number of staff housed in villages explains much of the diversity of cultivated alien plant species. Older camps also tend to have more ornamental alien plant species. However, the lack of a strong link between camp age and number of cultivated species suggests that ornamental plants have been widely spread around the KNP by humans. We also show that increased camp activity (either size or age) has led to more ornamental species, while, with the notable exception of Skukuza, camp activity has had a much smaller effect on the number of noncultivated species. Noncultivated species tend to be naturally dispersed, as opposed to directly spread by humans between camps.

Past management prioritized certain species on the basis of their potential to invade KNP and on the prevailing national legislation. These species were removed manually and follow-up control was carried out. Once the priority species were deemed to be under control, less invasive species were targeted. All alien species were removed from vacated houses, regardless of the potential invasiveness of the species.