Name: Mzizi N
Student number: 2015067164
Title: The effect that different human activities have on ungulates.
Many ethologist have been investigating how does the different human disturbances affect the behaviour of ungulates. So my group and I, also studied or carried out an investigation on how varying levels of human disturbances affects the behaviour of ungulates. Based on how we viewed the structure of the specific ungulates, we predicted that different human disturbances does not have an effect on the behaviour of the ungulates.
We carried out our in Golden Gate National Park, using binoculars and statoscope to view how many did what, pens, papers and clipboard were used to record the results and stop watch for time intervals. As we carried on observing and recording our results we found that as human disturbance changes, ungulates behaviour also changed, the results does not support the hypothesis. The results shows that there is a relationship between the disturbance and behaviour.
Keywords: Affect, behaviour, Human disturbance, investigation and ungulates
The human disturbance such as noise can have an impact in the way animals may respond, which in this case we say that response is a behaviour (Barber, Crooks, Fristrup et al. 2010. We need both animals (wild or not) and plants to have a functional ecosystem, but a healthy ecosystem is needed in order for us to survive and get enough food to make a living (World Bank Group et al. 2014). With that said, it shows how important they are to an ecosystem. Vertebrates plays many roles in the food web including, regulating the rates of vegetation
Noise is one of the disturbances that can cause behavioural responses that expressed by ungulates when thing they are at risk (Frid, Dill et al. 2002). By this it shows that humans impact wild life negatively as these animals sees human as potential predators.
My investigation is based on searching for the effects that different human activities have on ungulate, using no disturbance which is approaching the ungulate and doing nothing, low disturbance which was waving at the ungulate, high disturbance which was making a lot of noise. My hypothesis is, different human disturbances will not have an effect in the behaviour of wild life.
Figure: 1 Map of the area
We used spotting scope to spot and to count numbers of individuals behaving differently and the total numbers of individuals. We also used binocular to verify or double check the numbers. The other tool that we used was a stopwatch, we used it to have a correct 2 minutes intervals. Lastly we used things like clipboards, pens and sheets whereby we recorded our readings.
Our research was done March 2019 at ventures restaurant. Figure: 1 showing Golden Gate Highlands National Park on the map. Ventures restaurant is located in Golden Gate National Park which is in Free State Province in Clarence. The vegetation site is composed of mainly grasses and small shrubs, because it is a grassland biome. Lastly it is known that tourist has a huge impact in behaviours of the species found there.
How we designed our data collection was very simple and easy. We plotted tools that are mentioned above accordingly in order for us to evaluate if and how our activities (different disturbances) affected the ungulates and our main focus to avoid being too close to the two species. Each of our group members were assigned a temporary job which rotated amongst ourselves. One was holding binoculars while the other one was using spotting scope. Another one was a stopwatch person while the other two recorded the readings and rest of the group were the disturbers of the Wildebeest and Hartebeest. Our sheet had four types of animal behaviours namely, foraging, vigilance, moving other which we used as laying down. My colleagues and I chose to work with vigilance and foraging, due to the significant difference between the two behaviours
We had two species with different total numbers. Wildebeest had a total that ranged from 10-17 individuals, proportionally 0-93.33%, while Hartebeest had a total that ranged from 7-12 individuals, proportionally 0-91.67%. Across the whole experiment, some individuals were foraging, some were vigilant, some were moving and some were laying down, all this in both species.
At first in both species, when there were no disturbance they were less vigilance and as time went by and the level of disturbance increases the vigilance also increased. There is no difference between these two species, the only differences includes the total number of individuals and that Wildebeest were more mobile than Hartebeest.
Table: 1 showing statistical results of Wildebeest
t-Value df-Value P-Value
No disturbance 17.3 8 6.4
Low disturbance 3.3 8 0.005
High disturbance -2.5 8 0.02
Table: 2 showing statistical results of Hartebeest
t-Value df-Value P-Value
No disturbance 9.7 8 5.3
Low disturbance 12.0 8 9.4
High disturbance -1.1 8 0.156
Table: 3 showing the difference between foraging and vigilance in two human disturbances
No disturbance (Foraging) 64-93% 42-100%
No disturbance (Vigilance) 0-13% 0-17%
High disturbance (Foraging) 0-33% 30-70%
High disturbance (Vigilance) 17-80% 20-70%
After the investigation I realised how huge the human disturbance is the different types of wildlife behaviours and that how we realised that this goes against my hypothesis, in other words my hypothesis was not supported by this study. The reason why my hypothesis was not supported is because of the risk-disturbance hypothesis which states that human disturbances such as sound, presence or objects will cause the animal to behave a certain way against the predator (Frid and Dill et al. 2002).
The hypothesis of risk-disturbance tells a lot about how human activities impact wildlife in general. So, since the main focus was in two species of ungulate which are wildebeest and Hartebeest (Berger et al. 2003). As human activities increased there was a significant change in the behaviours of both Wildebeest and Hartebeest and Table: 3 justifies this.
Researchers have to continue with their researches in order to inform or teach people on how to behave in situations that involves humans and wildlife since these animals play an important role in the ecosystem. While tourists learn to provoke this animals.
I would like to thank Golden gate national park, specifically the vultures restaurant for .allowing me and my colleagues to conduct this research for our assignment. Ms Jumbam for helping us with the experiment and making sure that we are safe at all times, and lastly my colleagues for doing their assigned duties well.
Barber JR, Crooks KR, Fristrup KM (2010) The costs of chronic noise exposure for terrestrial organisms. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 25: 180189.
The World Bank Group. Why You Should Care About Wildlife. 2014. Available at [accessed 08 April 2019]
Frid A, Dill LM (2002) Human-caused disturbance stimuli as a form of
predation risk. Conservation Ecology 6: 11.
Berger J (2003) Is it acceptable to let a species go extinct in a National Park?