Seasonal variation in the feeding ecology of black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis L.) in Laikipia, Kenya

Author(s)Timothy W. Oloo, Robert Brett and Truman P. Young
Year Published1994
JournalAfrican Journal of Ecology
Page Numbers142-157
Size1.49 MB

Daily indirect observations were made on the diet and feeding habits of the black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis L.) on Ol Ari Nyiro Ranch, Laikipia, Kenya over a six-month period. Individual rhinos were followed along their feeding tracks, plants consumed by tracked animals were identified and herbivory quantified.

In total, 9665 individual feeding points were recorded at 1967 feeding stations. At least 103 plant species from at least 37 families were identified as rhino food plants. The diet of black rhinos on Ol Ari Nyiro was at least as species-rich as that in bushland habitats in Tsavo National Park and considerably more species rich than the diet of rhinos in Masai Mara Reserve. Black rhinos ate selectively and showed a marked reference for Acacia species and Phyllanthus fisheri. They apparently fed less on each plant in the dry season than in the wet season. This may be due to decreased palatability of food plants, and implies that rhinos may travel further per day in the dry season than in the wet season.

Keywords: Acacia, diet, Kenya, palatability, rhinoceros, selectivity

Authors: Timothy W. Oloo, Robert Brett and Truman P. Young

Journal: African Journal of Ecology

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