Seed Dispersal by Ungulates from Southern Africa was the title of a workshop organised at UKZN by the School of Life Sciences in partnership with the Centre for Invasion Biology, SANParks and the French National Research Institute of Science and Technology for Environment and Agriculture (Irstea).
Ungulates are hooved mammals and include buck, cattle, giraffe and horses. These animals play a role in both external and internal seed dispersal, such as carrying seeds stuck on their fur or ingesting and excreting seeds respectively.
The workshop was open to park rangers, wildlife reserve managers, wildlife and game ranching professionals, hunting associations, ecologists studying large mammalian herbivores and their interactions with vegetation as well as students in ecology.
Seed dispersal by ungulates is relatively understudied in South Africa, and with the variety of ungulate species found in the region, it is felt that more studies about this would help with understanding these systems which in turn would help with long-term conservation.
Participants included students and staff from UKZN, University of Pretoria, University of Cape Town, University of the Free State, Stellenbosch University, Nelson Mandela University, Massey University (New Zealand), SANParks, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Agricultural Research Council as well as Eastern Cape Tourism.
The goals of the workshop were to discuss seed dispersal by ungulates in Southern Africa and thus share and improve the collective knowledge on this ecological process and potentially initiate a network of collaborators.
The programme for the day began with talks about ungulate-mediated dispersal in different biomes in Europe, Southern Africa and the tropics and ended with a workshop to discuss methodological approaches, share personal observations and narratives and discuss future data collection.
Words: Preshnee Singh