Punda Maria Sandveld Landscape: Low Density of Larger Mammals


Punda Maria Sandveld on Waterberg Sandstone Location and Geomorphology

Sandstone of the Waterberg System occurs extensively in the north –western portion of the KNP around Punda Maria. It is a dissected landscape with mountains and bottomlands.
Landscape 34. Punda Maria Sandveld on Waterberg Sandstone Burke Africana tree savanna.
plains that accommodate a variety of habitats. The area is drained by tributaries of the Levubu River such as Shidzivane ,
Mangovane, Matukwala and Shipudza,
Mountains are relatively common and the following are the most conspicuous Gumbandevu,
Shitshowa, Dongadziva, Thulamila and Mikambeni.
Springs are common in this landscape and a few of them are reasonably permanent such as Shipudza, Shipale, Shilalani
And the warm water spring at Tshalungwa. These springs are a unique characteristic of this landscape.
Diabase sills and dykes intruded into the Waterberg System, similar to dolerite. These intrusions have a big influence on the type of soil that originates and the vegetation that occurs. The area is relatively high lying and varies greatly in altitude as a result of the mountains. The altitude varies between 420 and 580 metres. The landscape covers 297 km/2 or 1.7 percent of the area of the KNP.
Kruger Park Landscapes Gertenbach Number 34

Climate

The Punda Maria environment has a moderate climate with an annual rainfall of +/- 600 mm. The temperature is never as high as in the lower lying areas and as an example the temperature data for Punda Maria (Table 7) is applicable to this area. As a result of the great differences in altitude, slope and aspect there is a great variation in habitat especially as far as the micro –climate is concerned.

Soil Pattern

The soils in this landscape vary from lithosols in the mountains to deep sandy soils on the middleslopes and brackish soils in the bottomlands. Dominant soil Forms on the mountains are Mispah and Glenrosa, while Hutton, Clovelly and Glenrosa dominate the middleslopes. The bottomlands are dominated by soil Forms such as Valsrivier,
Hutton,
Swartland and
Sterkspruit.
Where diabase intrusions and sills occur the soils are more clayey and the following soil Forms can be expected:
Shortlands,
Hutton,
Bonheim and
Swartland.

Vegetation

The vegetation of this landscape as described by Van rooyen (1978) is divided into the following communities:

( i.) The Burkea Africana / Pseudolachnostylis maprouneifolia – tree savanna.

( ii ) The Kirkia acuminate / Afzelia quanzensis/ Combretum apiculatum –tree savanna.

( iii) The Androstachys johnsonii / Vroton pseudopulchellus – dry woodland.

( iv) The Diabase Community.

The Burkea Africana / Pseudolachnostylis maprouncifolia- tree savanna (Fig.76) occurs on deep sand to loam soils of the Hutton and Clovelly Forms. It is a tree savanna and Van Rooyen ( 1978) describes the structure in the following table.
Percentage crown
Stratum Distribution
>6 metres 2
4 – 5 metres 5
3 metres 11
2 metres 14
1 metres 13
0.5 metre 10

Dominanat woody species are:

Burkea Africana,
Pteleopsis myrtifolia,
Pseudolachnostylis maprouneifolia,
Hymenocardia ulmoides,
Bauhinia galpinii
Diplorhynschus condylocarpon
Ochna pulchra
Holarrhena pubescens,
Terminalia sericea
Guibourtia conjugate
Combretum collinum,
Peltophorum africanum
Monodora junodii
Combretum zeyheri
Strychnos madagascariensis
Combretum apiculatum
Hexalobus monopetalus and
Dalbergia melanoxylon.

This community is also the home for a few rare species such as:

Acacia polyacantha subsp. Campylacantha,
Xylopia odoratissima
Crossopteryx febrifuga
Drypetes gerrardii
Pterocarpus angolensis
Heteropyxis natalensis
Turraea nilotica
Tylosemo fassoglense
Combretum molle
Markhamia acuminate
Securidaca longipedunculata and
Albizia versicolor
The field layer is moderate to dense and is characterized by the presence of the following species:
Andropogon gayanus
Digitaria eriantha var. pentzii
Panicum maximum
Fimbristylis hispidula
Pogonarthria squarrosa
Aristida argentea
Merremia tridentata
Agathisanthenum bojeri
Vernonia fastigiata
Hermannia glanduligera
Tricholaena monachne
Rhynchosia totta
Perotis patens
Brachiaria nigropedata
Eragrostis pallens and
Vigna unguiculata.
The Kirkia acuminate / Afzelia quanzensis / Combretum apiculatum –tree savanna ( Fig. 77) occurs mainly on steep slopes with stony soils. It is a moderate tree savanna and the following species are common:
Kirkia acuminata
Afzelia quanzensis
Croton Gratissimus
Fig.77 Landscape 34. Punda Maria Sandveld on Waterberg Sandstone. Kirkia acumonata tree savanna.
Guibourtia conjugata
Combretum apiculatum
Hymenocardia ulmoides
Diplorhynchus condylocarpon
Monodora junodii
Hexalobus monopetalus
Combretum zeyheri
Strychnos madagascariensis
Rhoicissus revoilii
Bridelia mollis
Phyllanthus reticulates
Alchornea laxiflora
Maytenus mossambicensis
Artabotrys brachypetalus
Tricalysia allenii and
Tephrosia sericea

Rare species that occur mainly in this community are:

Gyrocarpus americanus
Warburgia salutaris
Wrightia natalensis
Albizia tanganyicensis
Schrebera argyrotricha
Entandrophragma caudatum
Brachylaena huillensis
Elephantorrhiza burkei
Rhus leptodictya
Lagynias dryadum
Landolphia kirkii and
Canthium huillense.

The following plants are present in the bush ravines on the mountains of this landscape:

Cussonia spicata
Cordial grandicalyx
Ficus sansibarica
Rhus gueinzii
Urera tenax
Landolphia kirkii
Schotia brachypetala
Vepris reflexa
Erythrina lysistemon
Bridelia mollis
Pouzolzia hypoleuca
Bauhinia galpinii
Tecomaria capensis
Albizia versicolor
Cassine aethiopica
Schrebera alata
Strychnos usambarensis
Brachylaeba huillensis
Acacia ataxacantha and
Heteropyxis natalensis.
The field layer of the Kirkia acuminata / Afzelia quanzensis / Combretum apiculatum tree savanna have a low crown cover, with the following dominant grass species:
Digitaria eriantha var. pentzii
Panicum maximum
Panicum deustum and
Pogonarthria squarrosa
Commonly occurring forbs are Pellaea viridis
Pellaea calomelanos
Euphorbia polycnemoides
Cyphocarpa angustifolia
Asparagus falcatus
Indigofera lapatana
Achyranthes sicula
Triumfetta pentandra and
Crabbea velutina
The Androstachys johnsoniii / Croton pseudopulchellus –dry woodland occurs on the drier slopes of the mountains and the composition of this woodland has already been discussed under Landscape 31. The same applies to the Colophospermum mopane / Euclea divinorum / Enteropogon macrostachyus high tree savanna that occurs on the brackish soils of the bottomlands of the landscape and this has been discussed in detail under Landscape 15.
The soils of the diabase instrusions and sills are more clayey and a unique community occurs. It is a shrub savanna with the following important woody species:
Combretum hereroense
Acacia nigrescens
Dichrostachys cinerea subsp. Africana
Pterocarpus rotundifolius
Combretum collinum subsp. Suluense
Lonchocarpus capassa
Combretum imberbe
Acacia gerrardii
Cassia petersiana
Grewia hexamita
Bolusanthus speciosus
Ormocarpum trichocarpum
Piliostigma thonningii
Combretum mossambicense and
Dombeya rotundifolia.

The field layer is dense and grasses such as Setaria holstii

Hyparrhenia rufa
Cymbopogon excavatus
Themeda triandra
Setaria sphacelata
Urochloa mosambicensis and
Panicum maximum are present.

Dominant forbs are

Helichrysum miconiifolium
Ipomoea papilio
Hypoxis rooperi
Desmodium lasiocarpum
Leonotis nepetifolia
Thesium resedoides
Corchorus trilocularis
Acalypha petiolaris and
Vernonia oligocephala
From this list of plants it can be concluded that the diabase community is very similar to the vegetation of Landscape 33.
The Levubu River forms the western boundary of the landscape. The riverine vegetation and that found on the banks of the larger spruits and around springs concurs with the description by Van Rooyen (1978) viz. the Acacia albida / Ficus sycomorus –river woodland which was discussed in detail under Landscape 28.

Fauna

This landscape accommodates a low density of larger mammals. Game species present are bushpig, bushbuck, kudu, nyala and duiker. Herds of buffalo are regularly encountered and elephant are present but in small numbers. Due to the low density of prey species, lion and other carnivores are scarce.