|Author(s)||I. Ciofolo and Y. Le Pendu|
The remaining West African giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) are found in Niger (62 individuals in January 1998). Their feeding behaviour was studied by direct observation during two periods of 6 and 12 mo. The giraffe's diet is diverse: at least 45 plant species were eaten, depending on spatial arrangement and a given plant's stage of growth. Time spent browsing during the dry season was twice that devoted to browsing during the rainy season (46 and 23 % respectively). Time spent feeding on a plant was correlated with the total time spent feeding on this species. Giraffe browsed at a level which domestic animals cannot reach: usually, between two and four metres for females and juveniles and between four and five metres for adult males. The total browsing time on a species was not correlated with its occurrence in the field. The small number of giraffes, the diversity of their diet and the lack of competition with domestic animals indicate a weak impact of the giraffe on the vegetation and the possibility for the population to increase in this area. Giraffe are located in an area with a strong human presence and they feed on species used daily by the rural communities. This brings to light the close link existing between communities living in the same environment. The acknowledgement of that link requires the consideration of ecological factors in their relationship with regional economic expansion programs.
Keywords: West African giraffes, Feeding Behaviour, Diet Preference, Habitat, Browsing height, Conservation, Niger
Authors: I. Ciofolo and Y. Le Pendu