Feeding behaviour of elephants (Loxodonta africana Blumenbach, 1797) and its impact on vegetation: in mosi-oa-tunya national park, Zambia
M’soni Michael, Chabwela Harry, Mudenda Gordon Hangoma
The purpose of the study was to investigate the feeding behaviour of elephants and its impact on the vegetation in the Mosi-Oa-Tunya National park. The study main objective: was to determine the habitat damage resulting from the feeding behaviour of elephants. The study required stratification of the study area into vegetation types, and total of five transects and fifty plots were established and distributed in all habitats. Data collection was done in both rain and dry seasons on habitat damage from 2016 to 2017. Results of the study indicated that in Mopane habitat 53.1% of different trees of 14 wood plant species were extensively damaged. This was followed by the scrub habitat in which 35.59% different shrubs of 15 wood plant species were damaged while in Miombo (5.17%), Mkusi (3.52%) and Riverline (2.61%) habitats were less damaged. Further analysis for habitat damage using ANOVA showed that there was a significant (F=3.31, p<.001) difference in the habitat damage due to the feeding behaviour of elephants. Increase in the number of trees damaged in Mopane habitat and scrub habitat resulted in the habitat damage by creation of open woodland in Mopane habitat and stunted but reproductive growth in Scrub habitat compared to the Habitats in which damaged was less. Findings of the study indicated that the elephants damaged Mopane habitat by their feeding behaviour. Although studies on this subject are limited in this region, these results provide additional information on the existing argument that the rapidly growing human population and changes in land use are a major threat to wildlife habitats. It was concluded that carrying capacity of the national park was severely exceeded and cannot sustain the elephant feeding pressure.
M’soni Michael, Chabwela Harry, Mudenda Gordon Hangoma. Feeding behaviour of elephants (Loxodonta africana Blumenbach, 1797) and its impact on vegetation: in mosi-oa-tunya national park, Zambia. International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research and Development, Volume 7, Issue 12, 2020, Pages 54-61