Can African elephants survive and thrive in monostands of Colophospermum mpane woodlands?
This literature review based paper focused on the food value/energy requirements of Colophospermum mopane to elephants. Mopane is an important browse for elephant in southern Africa and is particularly heavily utilized during the dry season because it is 'one of the few food plants still carrying leaves during this bottleneck period'. Mopane leaves collected in May from Kruger NP and data from mopane in the Tuli area of Botswana during all season were used in the calculations for daily food intake and gross energy requirements. (Owen-Smith 1988: Styles and Skinner 1997, 2000) Elephant spend 12-18 hours of the day foraging . 4% of their live weight is considered to be the daily browse intake. This study found that the animals required more mopane browse than 4% of their live weight and so in as long as they can browse for the length of time required to provide for the greater intake they could survive. Calculations suggest a mature bull browsing solely on mature green mopane would need to browse for 14 hours in order to achieve energy requirements. The nutritive quality of mopane is high throughout the year, this study suggests its energy content is sufficient for elephants year round if they utilize all parts (leaves, twigs, bark) and given they have sufficient browse time to take in larger quanitities in times of lower nutrition value. Mopane are known to be high in tannins, and research is needed to understand the effects these and other secondary compounds have on intake,digestibility and metabolism.
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Copyright (c) 2005 D. D. Georgina Lagendijk, Boer, Willem F. de, Wieren, S. E. van
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