Original Research

The diet of kudus in a mopane dominated area, South Africa

J.F. Hooimeijer, F.A. Jansen, W.F. de Boer, D. Wessels, C. van der Waal, C.B. de Jong, N.D. Otto, L. Knoop
Koedoe | Vol 48, No 2 | a96 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v48i2.96 | © 2005 J.F. Hooimeijer, F.A. Jansen, W.F. de Boer, D. Wessels, C. van der Waal, C.B. de Jong, N.D. Otto, L. Knoop | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 December 2005 | Published: 18 December 2005

About the author(s)

J.F. Hooimeijer, Wageningen University, Netherlands
F.A. Jansen, Wageningen University, Netherlands
W.F. de Boer, Wageningen University, Netherlands
D. Wessels, University of Limpopo, South Africa
C. van der Waal, Wageningen University, Netherlands
C.B. de Jong, Wageningen University, Netherlands
N.D. Otto, Wageningen University, Netherlands
L. Knoop, Wageningen University, Netherlands

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Abstract

The composition of the plant species eaten by kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) determines the diet quality, which impacts on kudu condition and mortality levels. The yearround diet composition of kudus in the Limpopo Province, a mopane (Colophospermum mopane) dominated area, was determined by faecal analysis. The most important dietary plant species were Colophospermum mopane, Grewia bicolor, Terminalia prunioides, Tinnea rhodesiana, Boscia albitrunca and Combretum apiculatum, with C. mopane comprising on average 39.2 % of diet per month. Small amounts of herbs, grasses and seeds made up the remaining part of the diet. The contribution of C. mopane in the diet was negatively correlated with precipitation. Colophospermum mopane was consumed, irrespective of its high condensed tannin load (5.2–9.8 % DW) for the majority of the months. No seasonally significant differences were detected for modelled kudu diet crude protein, tannin or phenol concentrations. Colophospermum mopane showed significant seasonal differences with lowest values of protein, tannin and phenols in the late wet season. Surprisingly, crude protein concentrations were positively correlated with high levels of tannins and phenols for C. mopane. The diet of kudus comprised of significantly more species during the wet season compared to the dry season. Diet diversification, instead of protein maximization, seems a potential tool to satisfy protein requirements while reducing potential toxic effects associated with a high intake of secondary compounds. A significant positive correlation was therefore detected between the tannin concentration of C. mopane leaves and the number of plant species in the diet.

Keywords

bushveld; condition; condensed tannin; crude protein; preference; habitat use.

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