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Status and Condition of Stands of Colophospermum mopane (Mopane) in Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve, Malawi
Academic Editor: Lotus Guo (registering DOI)

A study on the status and condition of Colophospermum mopane stands was done in Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve (VMWR), Malawi. The study examined the spatial distribution of mopane, age /size structure of mopane, as well as elephant damage to C. mopane in VMWR. C. mopane trees were sampled during the dry season period of 2020 (i.e. August – November). For sampling, three sections of mopane within the reserve were categorised. A total of 109 plots measuring 20 m x 30 m each (i.e., section A – 39 sample plots; section B – 36 sample plots; section C – 34 sample plots) were randomly placed across the mopane sections. C. mopane variables, that is, tree height, basal area, tree density, shrub density, density of damaged plants and number of dead trees was recorded within each plot. Damage was also assessed and rated depending on the intensity of damage. A total of 2541 C. mopane trees were sampled and data was analysed using SPSS version 20 for Windows (SPSS Inc, Chicago, USA).

Results from the One-way ANOVA test (Tukey’s HSD test), indicated that all the measured variables (height, basal area, density of damaged plants and density of dead trees) except stocking density were not significantly different across the 3 sampled sections of mopane (P>0.05). Elephant damage was found to be low with 37.0% and there was no significant differences on the density as well as level of damage (P=0.340) across all mopane sections. For conservation, management should focus on controlling annual fires which currently appear to be a major threat especially to mopane of small stature. Also, herbivore populations should be continuously monitored in order to keep them within ranges that do not lead to C. mopane woodland degradation.

Keywords: Colophospermum mopane; Vegetation; Elephant; Damage;