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Springbok behaviour as affected by environmental conditions in the Kalahari

DOI: 10.4102/koedoe.v50i1.143

Keywords: Antidorcas marsupialis , climate , feeding ecology , questionnaire , seasonality

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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.

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