oa South African Journal of Wildlife Research - 24-month delayed open access - Activity patterns of the Cape buffalo in the Willem Pretorius Game Reserve, Free State

Volume 28, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 2410-7220
  • E-ISSN: 2410-8200



The daily activity of buffalo was investigated over a 12 month period in the Willem Pretorius Game Reserve, Free State, South Africa, using the scan sampling method (Altmann 1973). Buffalo in the WPGR showed the same general circadian rhythm as other ruminants : a few long feeding periods, followed by a few long ruminating and resting periods. Grazing and resting / ruminating were the predominant activities (74% of the 24-hour cycle), with the percentage time spent grazing (48.2%) the highest during the warm, dry season (October to November). Nighttime grazing was favoured during the warmer months (p<O.1), with resting / ruminating occurring predominantly at night during the winter months (p<O.05). All drinking occurred during the day. There was a significant decrease in grazing (p<O.05) and an increase in resting / ruminating (p<O.05) from the warm, dry season to the cold, dry season (May to September). The time spent grazing did not differ significantly between the warm, wet and the cold, dry season, but resting / ruminating was significantly higher (p<O.05) during the cold, dry season. Although the study was conducted in a confined area consisting of sub-optimal habitat for buffalo (mostly Sourveld) with a long history of severe over-grazing and no large predators present, the seasonal activity patterns of the buffalo in the WPGR do not differ markedly from that observed in other studies.

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