Mopane trees dominate the vegetation in the northern half of the Kruger National Park, and much of the Limpopo Province. As many frustrated tourists know, wildlife is far less common in these areas, and the spread of mopane to the south would have important consequences, not only for large game and the tourists that follow them, but also for other plant and animal species and a range of ecosystem processes. And computer models predict that global climate change may lead to a spread of mopane, as higher temperatures lead to more favourable growing conditions to the south and west of its current distribution.
The Ndlovu Node of the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON) is seeking volunteers to help map the southern and western boundary of this remarkable tree species. The work will involve walking long distances through the Kruger National Park and adjacent private nature reserves, and recording the presence of mopanes on a handheld GPS. Ndlovu Node needs physically fit volunteers, preferably working in pairs, who are free for two or more days (weekdays or weekends) between May 14 and the end of June 2008. All volunteers will be accompanied by qualified game guards and will be taught the simple skills required.
The Bateleurs, an organisation of volunteer pilots, will also assist with the project by locating suitable areas for the ground-based volunteers to work in. Depending on the duration of your stay, subsidies for travel and accommodation costs are available.