Herbaceous plant species diversity in communal agro-pastoral and conservation areas in western Serengeti, Tanzania

Pius Yoram Kavana, Anthony Z. Sangeda, Ephraim J. Mtengeti, Christopher Mahonge, John Bukombe, Robert Fyumagwa, Stephen Nindi

Abstract


Agro-pastoralism involves the growing of crops and keeping of livestock as a livelihood strategy practiced by communities in rural areas in Africa and is highly dependent on environmental factors including rainfall, soil and vegetation. Agro-pastoral activities, e.g. livestock grazing and land clearing for crop cultivation, impact on environmental condition. This study evaluated the impacts of agro-pastoral activities on herbaceous plant species diversity and abundance in western Serengeti relative to conservation (protected) areas. A vegetation survey was conducted along the grazing gradients of ten 4 km transects from within village lands to protected areas. A total of 123 herbaceous species belonging to 20 families were identified. Higher herbaceous species diversity and richness were found in protected areas than in communal grazing lands. Similarly, the number of perennial herbaceous species was higher in the former than the latter, while occurrence of annuals was higher in the village areas. This observation indicates poor rangeland condition in village communal grazing lands as compared with protected areas. It is obvious that current agro-pastoral activities have contributed to a reduction in herbaceous species diversity in village lands in western Serengeti. However, the array of pasture species, especially desirable perennial species, still present in communal grazing areas, suggests that rejuvenation of these areas is possible. Resting of grazing land is recommended to reverse the trend towards diversity reduction and ensure future availability of feed resources for grazing animals in village lands.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17138/tgft(7)502-518

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