Sharon Holt, Beryl Wilson, Daryl Codron and Liora Kolska Horwitz.
Studies of leopard tortoise (Stigmochelys pardalis) deaths in South Africa’s central interior have revealed the devastating role played by electric fences. Data on tortoise mortality show that adult female tortoises are especially vulnerable to electrocution, which in turn negatively impacts on reproduction and growth of the population.
Figure 1. Browsers (e.g. giraffe) and grazers (e.g. zebra) by using different diet niches (photo courtesy J Codron).
Large mammal herbivores are among the most conspicuous elements of terrestrial landscapes. We South Africans all appreciate herbivores as flagships of our country’s natural heritage, enjoying them as food, for sport hunting, or simply for our holiday viewing pleasure. They are an exceptionally diverse animal group, represented by over 100 species on the African continent alone, ranging in size from the 3 kg rock dassie Procavia capensis to the African elephant Loxodonta africana with an average body mass around 4 000 kg (Codron 2013). How such a diversity of forms evolved, and still co-exist today, is nothing short of remarkable.