|Journal||Dissertation for the Bachelor of Science with Honours in Zoo Biology|
The giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) has been severely neglected among the scientific community in terms of research. This investigation explores their behavioural patterns with focus on feeding behaviours and dietary preferences under influencing factors, which provides vital information for conservation in situ and population management ex situ. The behaviour and dietary composition of nine Southern Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis giraffa) was observed in situ over a period of seven weeks. Dietary composition was recorded on a time sheet correlated with behavioural observations on an ethogram. Dietary composition and relevant behaviours were extracted and statistically analysed to answer the aims. The results demonstrated that giraffe allocate the largest proportion of their time budget to feeding behaviours. No significant difference found between feeding behaviours shown by male and female giraffe (Z= -0.229, P>0.05). Giraffe showed a dietary preference for Acacia species in the overall composition with Acacia karroo as the main component. Significant difference was found in the consumption of Acacia seiberiana by males and females (Z= -2.132, P=0.03). Avoidance of high tannin containing species by pregnant giraffe was evident. The results in this study correspond with the pre-existing scientific literature in terms of behavioural time budgets and dietary composition. Scientific literature is enhanced by the contribution of data on the influence of tannin on pregnant giraffe preferences. The information gained from this study can be used for further research, in situ conservation and it provides a basis for zoos to improve management of captive populations to replicate wild behaviours and dietary requirements.
Keywords: Southern Giraffe, Feeding behavior, Dietary preferences, Time budget, Conservation
Authors: Katie Souter
Journal: Dissertation for the Bachelor of Science with Honours in Zoo Biology