Original Articles

Kudu foraging behaviour: influenced by animal density?


Abstract

In deciduous savanna a marked decline in browse availability characterises the late dry season and apparently regulates populations of large browser species such as kudu. The dry season utilisation patterns of two woody species, Acacia tortilis and Boscia albitrunca, in two comparable sites but subjected to different kudu densities, were studied to determine if kudu adapt their feeding behaviour in response to animal density. Shoots of plants in the high-density area were vertically more uniformly utilised compared to shoots in the low-density area where browsing was more intense in certain height strata. Thicker shoots were selected in the high-density area and smaller plants selected than in the low-density area. It is concluded that kudu feeding behaviour during the dry season was significantly altered as a result of animal density differences. It is suggested that a high browsing pressure during times of low browse availability probably affects the productivity and recruitment of critical resources and questions the sustainability of such systems.

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