Original Research

The response of ungulates to rainfall along the riverbeds of the Southern Kalahari

M. G. L Mills, P. F Retief
Koedoe | Supplement | a574 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v27i2.574 | © 1984 M. G. L Mills, P. F Retief | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 December 1984 | Published: 01 December 1984

About the author(s)

M. G. L Mills, National Parks Board of Trustees, South Africa
P. F Retief, National Parks Board of Trustees, South Africa

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Abstract

The responses of springbok Antidorcas marsupialis, gemsbok Oryx gazella, blue wildebeest Connochaetes taurinus and red hartebeest Alcelaphus buselaphus to rainfall along the riverbeds of the southern Kalahari are analysed. Springbok reacted most rapidly to rainfall along the riverbeds and, by browsing in dry times, maintained a fairly stable presence throughout the year, although the actual number present in any one year was dependent on annual rainfall. Gemsbok responded more slowly to rainfall and reached their highest numbers in years of high rainfall when the grasses were tall and mature, after which they rapidly departed from the riverbeds. Red hartebeest also reached their highest numbers during the rainy season, but departed slightly more slowly than gemsbok. In dry years, they too, failed to come into the riverbeds. Blue wildebeest in the vicinity of the riverbeds tended to be more sedentary than the other species. The presence of potable artificial water appeared to be more important for wildebeest than for the other species and, although rainfall was undoubtedly an important factor in regulating their numbers along the riverbeds, they depended to a greater extent on breeding success and mortality factors, than on emigration and immigration. The overall seasonal pattern of ungulate abundance along the riverbeds in the southern Kalahari was one of wet season concentrations and dry season dispersion.

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