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
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.
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.
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,
Where diabase intrusions and sills occur the soils are more clayey and the following soil Forms can be expected:
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.
>6 metres 2
4 – 5 metres 5
3 metres 11
2 metres 14
1 metres 13
0.5 metre 10
Dominanat woody species are:
Hexalobus monopetalus and
This community is also the home for a few rare species such as:
Acacia polyacantha subsp. Campylacantha,
Securidaca longipedunculata and
The field layer is moderate to dense and is characterized by the presence of the following species:
Digitaria eriantha var. pentzii
Eragrostis pallens and
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:
Fig.77 Landscape 34. Punda Maria Sandveld on Waterberg Sandstone. Kirkia acumonata tree savanna.
Tricalysia allenii and
Rare species that occur mainly in this community are:
Landolphia kirkii and
The following plants are present in the bush ravines on the mountains of this landscape:
Acacia ataxacantha and
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 deustum and
Commonly occurring forbs are Pellaea viridis
Triumfetta pentandra and
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:
Dichrostachys cinerea subsp. Africana
Combretum collinum subsp. Suluense
Combretum mossambicense and
The field layer is dense and grasses such as Setaria holstii
Urochloa mosambicensis and
Panicum maximum are present.
Dominant forbs are
Acalypha petiolaris and
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.
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.