The annual fixed wing game census in the Park was completed toward the end of July this year. In 1998, Kruger adopted a distance sampling technique to gather population estimates for larger antelopes like impala, waterbuck and kudu as well as giraffe, wildebeest, zebra, white rhino and warthog.
“Our aim is to achieve the smallest possible variance between the lower and upper confidence levels on every count,” says Dr Ian Whyte of scientific services in the Park. He added that he is more confident in the survey because of the smaller variances associated with this year’s count.
In 1998, a 15 percent coverage of the Park was thought to be efficient, but this has now been adjusted to 22 percent in the south and 27 percent of the area north of the Olifants River. Between 1977 and 1996 the Park did an annual ‘total’ count, from a fixed wing aircraft.
The method was limited to clear weather conditions and mostly the cooler parts of the morning. Seeing as the park is just under two million hectares it meant that the survey took three and a half months to complete. Cost and time constraints combined with statistical rigour necessitated the change to the new distance sampling approach.