Original Research

Seasonal habitat selection by African buffalo Syncerus caffer in the Savuti–Mababe–Linyanti ecosystem of northern Botswana

Keoikantse Sianga, Richard W.S. Fynn, Mpaphi C. Bonyongo
Koedoe | Vol 59, No 2 | a1382 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v59i2.1382 | © 2017 Keoikantse Sianga, Richard W.S. Fynn, Mpaphi C. Bonyongo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 January 2016 | Published: 23 May 2017

About the author(s)

Keoikantse Sianga, Okavango Research Institute, University of Botswana, Botswana
Richard W.S. Fynn, Okavango Research Institute, University of Botswana, Botswana
Mpaphi C. Bonyongo, Okavango Research Institute, University of Botswana, Botswana


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Abstract

This study aimed to establish seasonal movement and habitat selection patterns of African buffalo Syncerus caffer in relation to a detailed habitat map and according to seasonal changes in forage quality and quantity in the Savuti–Mababe–Linyanti ecosystem (Botswana). Two buffalo were collared in November 2011 and another in October 2012. All three buffalo had greater activities in the mopane–sandveld woodland mosaic during the wet season, which provided high-quality leafy grasses and ephemeral water for drinking, but moved to permanent water and reliable forage of various wetlands (swamps and floodplains) and riverine woodlands during the dry season. Wetlands had higher grass greenness, height and biomass than woodlands during the dry season. Buffalo had similar wet season concentration areas in the 2011–2012 and 2012–2013 wet seasons and similar dry season concentration areas over the 2012 and 2013 dry seasons. However, their dry season location of collaring in 2011 differed dramatically from their 2012 and 2013 dry season concentration areas, possibly because of the exceptionally high flood levels in 2011, which reduced accessibility to their usual dry season concentration areas. The study demonstrates that extremely large and heterogeneous landscapes are needed to conserve buffalo in sandy, dystrophic ecosystems with variable rainfall.

Conservation implications: This study emphasises the importance of large spatial scale available for movement, which enables adaptation to changing conditions between years and seasons.


Keywords

Adaptive foraging; floodplains; forage dynamics; key resources; migration

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Crossref Citations

1. Seasonal habitat selection by African buffalo Syncerus caffer in the Savuti–Mababe–Linyanti ecosystem of northern Botswana
Keoikantse Sianga, Richard W.S. Fynn, Mpaphi C. Bonyongo
Koedoe  vol: 59  issue: 2  year: 2017  
doi: 10.4102/koedoe.v59i2.1382