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South African Journal of Animal Science

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Aspects of the feeding ecology of a browsing ruminant: the kudu

N. Owen-Smith, S.M. Cooper, P.A. Novellie

Abstract


Forbs form the preferred dietary component of the kudu (Tragelaphus sfrepsiceros). This preference was associated with the high nutrient content of their leaves and less fibrous stem material relative to trees and shrubs. Woody browse was most sought after during the early growing season when their new shoots are softest and forbs are least available. Kudus are able to maintain foraging efficiency for most of the year by substituting alternative food species as availability of preferred species declines. Woody species armed with structural defences are preferred during the growing season owing to higher nutrient content in their leaves than in unarmed species. During the dry season when food availability becomes limiting, the preference shifts in favour of species offering highest eating rates. Certain species were consistently rejected despite adequate nutrient levels presumably because of the presence of unidentified chemical deterrents in their leaves.

Forbe is die voorkeur dieetkomponent van die koedoe (Tragelaphus sfrepslceros). Hierdie voorkeur spruit uit die ho€ voedingswaardev an hul blare en die feit dat hul minder veselrige stammateriaal het in vergelyking met bome en struike. Houtagtige takvoer was die gewildste tydens die vroe€ groeiseisoenw anneerd ie jong lote die sagste is en forbe die minste beskikbaar. Koedoes is in staat om die grootste gedeelte van die jaar effektief te wei deur van alternatiewe voedselspesiesg ebruik te maak soos die beskikbaarheidv an die voorkeur species afneem. Houtagtige spesies bewapen met strukturele beskerming word verkies tydens die groeiseisoen omdat hul blare meer voedingswaardeh et as di6 van die onbewapende spesies. Tydens die dro€ seisoen wanneer die beskikbaarheid van kos beperk raak, verskuif die voorkeur na spesies wat die vinnigste vreettempo toelaat. Sekere spesies is voortdurend verwerp ten spyte van voldoende voedingstof vlakke,w aarskynliko mdat daar ongeldentifiseerdech emiese afweermiddelsi n hul blare voorkom,

Keywords: Feeding ecology, diet, ruminant, browser, kudu




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