n African Zoology - Digestive parameters and energy assimilation of Cape porcupine on economically important crops

Volume 50, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1562-7020
  • E-ISSN: 2224-073X
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To better understand how Cape porcupines are able to successfully occupy many agricultural lands, we studied their digestive parameters and energy assimilation when fed three economically important agricultural crops(potatoes [], sweet potatoes [] and butternut []). Daily food intake, daily gross energy intake, daily faecal energy loss, daily energy assimilated, daily water intake and apparent assimilation efficiency were calculated for each porcupine and for each diet trial. Cape porcupines maintained body mass on all three experimental diets and energy intake ranged from 3 002.36 kJ kg-1 d-1 (potato) to 4 499.00 kJ kg-1 d-1 (sweet potato). The moisture content in each experimental diet was relatively high (>60%) and preformed water intake of winter acclimated Cape porcupines ranged from 60 ml kg-1 d-1 (potato) to 100 ml kg-1 d-1(sweet potato). Assimilation efficiencies were high (>85%) on all three diets. Cape porcupines ingested c. 1.5-2.7 kg of each crop daily, translating to potentially large economic impacts on farmers. Knowledge and understanding of Cape porcupine food intake and dietary requirements give insight to their potential impact on commercial crops. This may aid in developing management and conservation strategies needed to manage this human-wildlife conflict.

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