Climate change and variability pose a threat to wildlife resources in semi-arid savannahs. With examples from selected protected areas in Southern Africa, this chapter highlights studies on detected climate changes particularly rainfall and temperature, outlines the predicted and observed impacts of climate change and variability on wildlife resources in savannah ecosystems and highlights the adaptation and mitigation strategies and implications for conservation. Literature indicates that Southern Africa is characterised by highly variable, erratic and unpredictable rainfall and increasing temperature coupled with an increasing trend in climate-related extreme events such as frequent droughts, cyclones and heat waves. Drought, in particular, has led to death in several wildlife species. This has implications on long-term survival of the species. Changes in rainfall and temperature patterns influence habitat quality and consequently abundance of distribution of wildlife species. Large herbivores such as elephants and hippopotamus in particular are vulnerable to climate change due to their ecology, whereas other species are less vulnerable. Climate-related extreme events, coupled with other anthropogenic stressors, interact to influence changes in abundance and distribution of wildlife resources. Understanding the influence of these climatic factors on wildlife resources is vital for adaptive management and protection of biodiversity.
Part of the book: Selected Studies in Biodiversity