Potential effects of prescribed savannah burning on the diet selection of forest buffalo (Syncerus caffer nanus) in Lopé National Park, Gabon

Y. van der Hoek, I. Lustenhouwer, K.J. Jeffery, W.F. van Hooft

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Seasonality and management are factors that may affect the diet selection of the forest buffalo (Syncerus caffer nanus). Fire is considered a major driving force in savannah systems and prescribed burning is a commonly applied conservation tool in protected areas such as Lopé National Park, Gabon. Prescribed annual fires contribute to the maintenance of open areas and provide high-quality forage for forest buffalo, a major herbivore in the park. We used microhistological faecal analysis to determine the diet selection of forest buffalo and measured the extent of variation between a dry season, preburn and a wet season, postburn sampling period. The buffalo diet comprised mainly of monocotyledons, primarily grasses (Poaceae) and sedges (Cyperaceae). Intake of open-area-associated plant species was higher in the wet season, postburn treatment sampling period (97%) than the dry season, preburn sampling period (87%), which corresponded conversely to a reduction in forest-associated Marantaceae plants (10% versus 1%). High proportions of grasses and sedges in the diet signify the importance of open areas for forest buffalo. Controlled burning as tool for maintenance of open areas may play a key role in the meta-population management of the forest buffalo.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-101
JournalAfrican Journal of Ecology
Volume51
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Keywords

  • reserve
  • africa
  • fire
  • herbivores

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