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Experimental evidence that effects of megaherbivores on mesoherbivore space use are influenced by species’ traits

1. The extinction of 80% of megaherbivore (>1,000 kg) species towards the end of the Pleistocene altered vegetation structure, fire dynamics and nutrient cycling world-wide. Ecologists have proposed (re)introducing megaherbivores or their ecological analogues to restore lost ecosystem functions and reinforce extant but declining megaherbivore populations. However, the effects of megaherbivores on smaller herbivores are poorly understood. 2. We used long-term exclusion experiments and multispecies hierarchical models fitted to dung counts to test (a) the effect of megaherbivores (elephant and

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Imagining a ‘pleasant place’: a rock engraving site in the Trans-Gariep Nama Karoo, South Africa

The Keimoes Engraving Site 01 (KES01) north of Keimoes, Northern Cape Province, is a recently documented site with just over 50 recorded instances of rock markings. These comprise engravings of human footprints, animal motifs and smoothed and pecked areas on an outcrop. The KES01 engravings provide an opportunity to investigate the ‘problem of the animals’: the predominance of animal images and their frequent presentation as solitary figures portrayed in a standing posture. This phenomenon has been noted previously but not

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Wild and domestic savanna herbivores increase smaller vertebrate diversity, but less than additively

1. Cattle and other livestock graze more than a quarter of the world’s terrestrial area and are widely regarded to be drivers of global biodiversity declines. Studies often compare the effects of livestock presence/absence but, to our knowledge, no studies have tested for interactive effects between large wild herbivores and livestock at varying stocking rates on small-bodied wild vertebrates. 2. We investigated the effects of cattle stocking rates (none/moderate/high) on the diversity of wildlife 0.05–1,000 kg using camera traps at

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Woody vegetation change in response to browsing in Ithala Game Reserve, South Africa

The impact of elephant and other browsers may be magnified when they are restricted within small, fenced reserves. These reserves are becoming commonplace in southern Africa. The composition and structure of the woody vegetation of a portion of the 30 000 ha Ithala Game Reserve, South Africa, was monitored annually from 1992 to 2000. Woody species described a continuum from those that declined in abundance and were threatened with extirpation (e.g. Aloe marlothii, Acacia davyi ), through those that remained

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Waterhole use by African fauna

Water is one of the fundamental requirements of life but there has been little study on the use of water by free-ranging wildlife communities. We investigated the timing of waterhole use by African fauna using webcams to determine whether this mode of data collection was viable, to determine whether animals drank randomly throughout the day, whether there were differences between guilds in waterhole use and finally we created a relative rank of water dependency by comparing waterhole use with the

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A study of animal movement in the Hoanib River catchment, northwestern Namibia

Seasonal movements of domestic stock and wildlife were analysed across the Hoanib River catchment. Data were gathered by ground and aerial surveys and represent the seasonal movement of animals, rather than the total number of animals in the catchment area. Domestic stock movement and distribution did not vary substantially and appeared to be associated with the seasonal, spatial availability of water and grazing in different places, and with human settlements. There was an apparent movement of cattle out of the

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Impact of a new exhibit on stereotypic behaviour in an elderly captive African elephant (Loxodonta africana)

Stereotypic behaviour in zoo elephants is considered an indicator of impaired welfare. The underlying causes are diverse and many aspects are still unexplored. Nevertheless, many zoological institutions make huge efforts to improve the well-being of their elephants. The construction of a new exhibit provides a chance to gain further evidence on the impact of such measures on elephant behaviour. We report a significant decrease in both the amount and frequency of swaying in an elderly African elephant (Loxodonta africana) after

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Herbivore population crashes and woodland structure in East Africa

Between 1985 and 1991, bush encroachment was serious in Lake Manyara National Park, northern Tanzania. Shrub cover increased by c. 20%. The increase was independent of initial (1985) shrub cover. Since 1987 there has been a steep decline in the number of African elephant in the Park due to poaching. Elephant density decreased from about 6 km-2 to about 1 km-2. However, shrub establishment, as determined from counting tree-rings, preceded poaching. Shrub establishment in two areas of the Park coincided

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Overlap and seasonal shifts in use of woody plant species amongst a guild of savanna browsers

To clarify the potential influence of different browsers in the same guild on woody vegetation, dietary overlap and separation between elephant, giraffe, kudu, nyala and impala was assessed in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, South Africa. Woody species browsed, browsing heights, plant-parts browsed and browsing versus grazing were recorded over 2 y by direct observation. We obtained 3068 browse records. Niche breadth (Levins’ measure) and overlap (Schoener’s index) in species browsed and browsing heights were calculated. Annual and seasonal differences in these measurements,

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Molecular characterization of Blastocystis isolates from zoo animals and their animal-keepers

Blastocystis is an enteric protist and one of the most frequently reported parasitic infections in humans and a variety of animal hosts. It has also been reported in numerous parasite surveys of animals in zoological gardens and in particular in non-human primate species. PCR-based methods capable of the direct detection of Blastocystis in faeces were used to detect Blastocystis from various hosts, including non-human primates, Australian native fauna, elephants and giraffes, as well as their keepers from a Western Australian

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