Roosting requirements of Helmeted Guineafowl Numida meleagris on Highveld grain and livestock farms with alien tree groves, Gauteng province, South Africa
This study describes the relationship between Helmeted Guineafowl Numida meleagris and invasive alien trees on livestock and maize farms south-east of Johannesburg, Gauteng province, South Africa. The dependence of the birds on alien trees affects strategies for the removal of these trees. During June to December 2014, Helmeted Guineafowl were recorded weekly on maps along a 42 km transect. Since Helmeted Guineafowl live in cohesive social groups of 15–20 birds, they roost communally in one or two trees during winter rather than spreading across an entire tree grove. The distribution of alien trees across the landscape in patches has enabled Helmeted Guineafowl flocks to reach new feeding patches near to roosting trees, as old feeding patches are depleted. One Helmeted Guineafowl flock of 15–20 birds requires ~0.09 ha covered with mature alien trees for roosting. Suggestions are presented relating to the reduction of alien trees in compliance with the Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act 43 of 1983 and conservation of Helmeted Guineafowl.
Keywords: alien trees, communal roosting, farmland, Highveld, Numida meleagris