Habitat Degradation and Biodiversity Recovery
Owing to prolonged dry spells and climatic variation, high densities of elephants have impacted on the wood cover eroding some areas of the sanctuary off its dense vegetation and highly modifying this ecosystem. In an effort to reverse the loss, the first solar powered electric enclosure was set up in 2009 for the exclusion of the mega herbivores and to allow for plant recruitment and regeneration within the exclusion plot.
The natural regeneration is supplemented through tree planting of the indigenous species by visitors and inclusivity of the local community in creating an awareness and sensitization on threats to the environment and wildlife survival, and the need to conserve them.
Most of the woody plants in the enclosure have reached maturity stage, providing a habitat for woodland dwelling species.
Riparian forest ecosystems are important for their high productivity of biomass, significant biodiversity, and ecological services. The disruption of Bura river flow within the sanctuary attributed to prolonged siltation and subsequent loss of streams channeling water to this river, has led to severe loss of tree cover and undergrowth that characterizes the riparian habitat. This has had a major impact on downstream forest productivity and ecological services, suppression of tree growth and early tree mortality, thus negatively impacting on the habitat’s health and hydrology of the river.
Following the successful restoration of the habitat at the Bura enclosure (32.5 Acres) within the Sanctuary, two other separate electric enclosures along the riparian zone near Salt Lick Safari Lodge ( measuring 37.6 Acres and 45 Acres), were commissioned in 2020 and 2023, respectively, to recover riparian forest, whose canopy cover, undergrowth and contiguity had been greatly affected.
It is expected that vegetation recovery that will ensue will restore the contiguous character of the riparian forest and regenerate the buffer zone plants that are vital for the mitigation and control of nonpoint source pollution, enhancing infiltration of surface runoffs, and in the provision of habitat and food for riparian plant and animal species.