The diet of a small group of extralimital giraffe

Giraffe are extralimital in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa where recent local introductions have persisted despite limited research into their impact on the indigenous flora. The diet of 15 giraffe at the Shamwari Game Reserve was recorded by direct observation during summer (March/April) and winter (July/August) 2001, quantifying diet by frequency of occurrence (individual records scored and expressed as a percentage of the total). Preference indices were also calculated. Habitat use was measured by the number of hours giraffe fed in different habitats. The diet comprised of 14 plant species, the most important species being Rhus longispina (47.9%), Acacia karroo (25.7%) and Euclea undulata (17.6%). Importance of R. longispina, A. karroo and Tarchonanthus camphoratus fluctuated seasonally. Rhus longispina was more important in winter with a corresponding decrease in feeding on A. karroo. Tarchonanthus camphoratus was only consumed during summer. Acacia karroo thickets (previously disturbed areas) were utilized most (summer 12h; winter 9 h), with alternative habitats utilized more often in winter than in summer. We suggest that the seasonal fluctuation in the importance of R. longispina & A. karroo reflects the deciduous nature of A. karroo.

Last Updated
January 27, 2021
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