A comparison of faecal analysis with backtracking to determine the diet composition and species preference of the black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis minor)

R.J. van Lieverloo, B.F. Schuiling, W.F. de Boer, P.C. Lent, C.B. de Jong, D. Brown, H.H.T. Prins

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15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The diet of black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis minor) was studied using backtracking and faecal analysis in South Africa. Both methods yielded different results, with a large bias for dominant species. Results of backtracking showed that the rhinos browsed on 80 plant species. Grasses comprised 4.5% of the diet in the faecal analysis, but were not recorded during the backtracking. The backtracking method, along with a measure of forage availability, was used to identify two groups of plant species, those species taken in a higher proportion than available in the field and those taken in a lower proportion. Chemical analyses showed that these two species groups were similar in in vitro digestibility, macro-elements and fibre constituents. Mean bite size and species contribution to the diet were not correlated with any of the forage quality parameters, indicating that rhinos were not maximising nutrient intake or minimising fibre intake of these consumed plant species.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)505-515
JournalEuropean Journal of Wildlife Research
Volume55
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Keywords

  • fish river reserve
  • south-african savanna
  • microhistological analysis
  • forage quality
  • subtropical thicket
  • browsing ruminants
  • retention times
  • woody-plants
  • selection
  • deer

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