Diet Composition of Forest Inhabiting Cape Buffalo (Syncerus caffer caffer) in Western Ethiopia

Mosissa Geleta Erena, Afework Bekele, Habte Jebessa Debella

Abstract


This study investigated the diet composition of Cape buffalo in Jorgo-Wato Protected Forest. Diet composition was determined through feeding quadrat survey method. Grass as a mode of diet contributed 82.6%, whereas browse contributed 17.4% to the annual diet of Cape buffalo. Graminoids (Poaceae and Cyperaceae) formed the bulk of food available and eaten by Cape buffalo in both seasons (dry and wet season). However, the contributions of graminoids were higher in the dry season than the wet season, whereas the contribution of browse was high in the wet than the dry seasons. Panicum hochstetteri and Setaria poiretiana have the highest availability, acceptability and dietary contribution in the diet of Cape buffalo in Jorgo-Wato Protected Forest. Faecal nitrogen and phosphorus content analysis indicated mean nitrogen of 18.4±0.53 g kg-1 in the wet and 17.7±0.71 g kg-1 in the dry seasons. It also revealed mean faecal phosphorus content of 4.3±0.39 g kg-1 in the wet and 3.9±0.36 g kg-1 in the dry seasons. The mean faecal nitrogen and phosphorus content of Jorgo-Wato buffalo were above the minimum threshold level in both seasons. Though Cape buffalo inhabit pure forested habitat, they found replacement in the forest to find adequate shade tolerant grass species that produce sprouts and green foliage throughout the year. Faecal nitrogen and phosphorus analysis also revealed that forest inhabited Cape buffalo obtain more quality diet than those dwelling in open savanna habitats especially in the dry season where forages dieback over the course of the dry season. Despite the pure forested habitats of Jorgo-Wato Protected Forest, Cape buffalo has confirmed that they remain grazers even in forested habitats of limited grass diversity.

Keywords


African Buffalo; Diet Composition; Diet Quality; Ethiopia; Forest Inhabiting

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