The ecology of the Kafue lechwe: soils, water levels and vegetation.

Published online
01 Jan 1978
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Journal of Applied Ecology

Rees, W. A.

Publication language
Africa South of Sahara & Zambia


The geology, topography, soils and climate of the area utilized by lechwe (Kobus leche kafuensis) at Lochinvar National Park, Zambia, are described. The soils at Lochinvar contain sufficient levels of most of the main nutrients for plant growth. Through ferrolysis, conditions exist for all of the nutrients present to become available to the plant roots during the course of the yr. The soils are uniformly low in P and the amount of available N could be a limiting factor to plant growth. The monthly and annual fluctuations in the flood water levels are described before the construction of the Kafue Gorge dam. A vegetation map of the area is presented, based upon a modified 2 X 2 contingency table analysis and a principal coordinate analysis. 10 topographic units containing 15 plant communities are identified. Vegetational differences between units are attributed mainly to hydrological differences (depth and duration of flooding, and the length of the dry period). Differences may be supplemented or obscured by differences in grazing and trampling pressures. The probable effects of the construction of the Kafue Gorge dam on water levels are considered.

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