Marataba, similarly to many other protected and private wildlife areas in South Africa, is fenced. Because of this, some aspects of the environment require manipulation and/or rehabilitation to simulate natural disturbances that occurred historically (e.g. animal migrations and uncontrolled veld fires). To ensure that decisions to intervene are well informed and carried out responsibly, we rely on several monitoring programs to track and record current information, as well as changes over time.
One of the most important components monitored is the condition of the vegetation. Condition is assessed on a continual basis and is specifically aimed at determining the quantity and quality of grasses in the park as well as the degree of degradation. Marataba has 27 fixed vegetation condition assessment (VCA) plots, which represent the different plant communities within the park. Data is collected at various times of the year and especially when the vegetation is expected to be in an optimum state. The results of these assessments drive decision making around veld rehabilitation efforts such as seeding and brush packing, wildlife removals, erosion control and more.
As a guest at Marataba, participate in regular veld condition surveys and spend an informative morning with a guide and Leta considering what goes into ensuring the habitat of Marataba remains suitable for the array of species that are conserved here. The intervention involves identifying and recording all grass species and biomass at 100 points along a line transect. The survey plots also have a series of fixed point and aerial photographs taken (by drone), and they are digitally stitched together to create a high-quality image. These are repeated on the exact same flight pattern each year and deliver easily comparable visual representations of any changes over time.