Original Research

Blue duiker Philantomba monticola densities in the Tsitsikamma National Park and probable factors limiting these populations

N. Hanekom, V. Wilson
Koedoe | Vol 34, No 2 | a427 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v34i2.427 | © 1991 N. Hanekom, V. Wilson | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 September 1991 | Published: 23 September 1991

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N. Hanekom, Tsitsikamma National Park, South Africa
V. Wilson, Chipangali Wildlife Trust, South Africa

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Abstract

Numbers of blue duikers recorded on 157 and 28 variable width transect counts, done over a two year period in the Tsitsikamma Coastal National Park (TCNP) and Tsitsikamma Forest National Park (TFNP) respectively, did not differ significantly {P > 0,10) with seasons (summer v. winter). Population density estimates from transects were similar to those from game drives (0,18 v. 0,19 duikers/ha (TCNP) and 0,13 v. 0,17 duikers/ha (TFNP); P >0,10), higher than from faecal pellet counts (P < 0,10) and at least three times lower than estimates from the Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve and Umdoni Park in Natal. Factors contributing to the low population densities in the Tsitsikamma national parks were investigated. Twentyseven and seven percent of leopard (25) and caracal (12) scats respectively analyzed contained blue duiker remains, but predator numbers appear to be low. Forest characteristics were investigated, and results from this and other studies suggest that undergrowth cover does not markedly influence blue duiker densities in the southern Cape forests. Field and stomach analysis indicate that blue duikers feed primarily on freshly fallen leaves and fruit, and are selective foragers. In the Tsitsikamma national parks (TNPs) the frequency of occurrence of trees known to be palatable to duikers are low, while less than 45 percent of the dominant tree species fruit fully annually. This apparent scarcity of food, the low numbers of antelope species and individuals in these forests and results from duiker research in Zaire, suggest that habitat rather than predation is limiting duiker numbers in the Tsitsikamma national parks.

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