oa South African Journal of Wildlife Research - 24-month delayed open access - Assessing the foraging effeciency of a large herbivore, the kudu

Volume 9, Issue 3-4
  • ISSN : 2410-7220
  • E-ISSN: 2410-8200



Two indices of foraging efficiency are proposed: (i) accepted food abundance, expressed in terms of the feeding time achieved per unit distance covered, (ii) food ingestion rate, expressed as the proportion of foraging time devoted to feeding. These were tested using field observations made on greater kudus (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) in the Kruger National Park. Seasonal changes in these measures were compared in two habitat types. The proposed indices reflected greater food availability in the favoured habitat, and also during the wet season. Feeding time per unit distance was the more sensitive of the two. Kudus modified their foraging behaviour to compensate for habitat differences, by (i) changing habitat selection; (ii) widening acceptance ranges for certain food types; (iii) decreasing the time diverted to miscellaneous activities while foraging; (iv) increasing the time devoted to foraging. For browsing ungulates, assessments of habitat favourability must take into account not only dietary composition, but also the rates of food intake.

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