Genetic patterns in three South African specialist antelope species: threats, conservation management and their implications

Metlholo Andries Phukuntsi, Desire Lee Dalton, Monica Mwale, Jeanetta Selier, Thando Cebekhulu, Mamadi Theresa Sethusa

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Abstract

Genetic diversity is a fundamental measure of a populations ability to adapt to future environmental change. Subpopulations may carry unique genetic lineages that contribute to fitness and genetic diversity of species across their distribution range. Therefore considerations, or lack thereof, of genetic diversity in wildlife management practises may result in either population persistence or extinction over time. Some management tools may pose a greater risk to a species’ survival than others when populations are impacted. In South Africa, there has been great interest to translocate animals, sometimes with little consideration to the potential impacts on the species and/or populations survival. Thus, there is a need to collate scientific information to better inform decision-making and review these management practices and their effects on populations. Here, we focus on three antelope species, the blue duiker (Philantomba monticola), oribi (Ourebia ourebi), and tsessebe (Damaliscus lunatus). We review the genetic status of each species across South Africa, with regards to taxonomy, genetic diversity and population structure, threats that may compromise the genetic diversity within species and across populations, conservation management actions and how they may compromise or benefit the genetic status and lastly make recommendations on possible alternative management actions and future research to inform conservation policy and sustainable management practice.
Original languageEnglish
JournalConservation Science and Practice
Publication statusPublished - 22 Aug 2022

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