Monitoring of carnivore and small mammal diversity at industrial sites
The mining and petrochemical industries plays an important role in the South African economy and employment. While these industries can have a negative impact on the environment and biodiversity, there is emerging evidence that natural and unused areas at these industrial sites can be important refuges for biodiversity. For the Sasol State of Biodiversity project, for example, we use the serval as a model taxon to investigate the persistence of a specialist carnivore (and their prey) in varying levels of land transformation and reclamation. To achieve this, we do annual camera trap surveys to estimate serval densities and carnivore diversity, which we contrast to other industrial sites, the agricultural matrix and natural areas. We utilize fine scale GPS tracking data to quantify the landscape permeability for serval. Finally, we collect data on serval diet on various landscapes to quantify the prey base, and ultimately the drivers of serval populations in these landscapes. We believe this study will greatly improve our knowledge on the conservation value of industrial sites for various species and that these sites should be considered in conservation planning.