Original Research

Springbok behaviour as affected by environmental conditions in the Kalahari

Hein Stapelberg, Margaretha W. van Rooyen, Jacobus du P. Bothma, Michael J. van der Linde, Hendrik T. Groeneveld
Koedoe | Vol 50, No 1 | a143 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v50i1.143 | © 2008 Hein Stapelberg, Margaretha W. van Rooyen, Jacobus du P. Bothma, Michael J. van der Linde, Hendrik T. Groeneveld | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 March 2008 | Published: 10 December 2008

About the author(s)

Hein Stapelberg, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Margaretha W. van Rooyen, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Jacobus du P. Bothma, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Michael J. van der Linde, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Hendrik T. Groeneveld, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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Abstract

Springbok behavioural ecology in the Kalahari was examined with the use of public questionnaires and field forms. Springbok favoured grass and forbs overall more than shrubs and trees, but diet selection was influenced by time of day and season. Feeding was the most common activity and the frequency of occurrence varied during the day and between seasons. Weather and microhabitat conditions were found to have a significant effect on the feeding behaviour. Springbok fed in direct sunlight in the mornings and moved into the shade during the afternoon. More time was spent feeding in the shade during the warmer months than during the colder months, especially under northerly to northeasterly wind directions. Natural licks were commonly utilised. Herd sizes were found to increase during the cold-dry season and decrease during the hot-wet season. Springbok and blue wildebeest appeared to avoid competition by niche separation. The study showed that springbok behaviour was significantly affected by environmental conditions. These results imply that changes in climatic conditions, such as those predicted by climate change, or changes in vegetation structure due to degradation, can negatively affect springbok behaviour.

Keywords

<i>Antidorcas marsupialis</i>; climate; feeding ecology; questionnaire; seasonality

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