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Greener Journal of  Biological Sciences Vol. 3 (1), pp. 031-47January 2013

 © 2011 Greener Journals

Research Paper

Manuscript Number: 112212285

 

Dry Season Browse Preference for the Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis): The Case of the Midlands Black Rhino Conservancy (MBRC), Zimbabwe

 

Makaure Jand *Makaka Caston2*

 

 Biological Sciences Department, Midlands State University, P. Bag 9055, Gweru

 

*Corresponding Author’s Email: makakac@ msu. ac. zwcmakaka@ yahoo. com, Phone number +26354260450 ext 340


Abstract:

Dry season browse preference for the black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) was studied at the Midlands Black Rhino Conservancy (MBRC), Zimbabwe, in 2010. Free ranging black rhinos were tracked and 8 687 individual bites were recorded at 131 feeding stations and 616 feeding points. Only 34 plant species accounted for the black rhino diet. Trees contributed much of the diet (52.9%) followed by shrubs (44.0%) and lastly herbs (7.3%), with most of the browse (68.7%) coming from the 1.0-1.5m height category. Early dry season diet was richer and more evenly distributed (34 species, H'=3.812.) than late dry diet (27 species, H' =3.413). Acacia nilotica, Acacia karoo, Dichrostachys cineria, Ziziphus mucronata, Lantana camara, Gardenia volkensii and Rhus tenuinervis constituted the principal diet of the rhino, contributing 69.4% and 81.6% of the browse in the early dry and late dry season respectively. In the early dry season L. camara was the most important principal species contributing 32.9% of the browse, scoring the highest proportional usage. (0.33) and was also the most available (0.26), a position that switched onto A nilotica in the late dry season. The restricted diet obtained in the study may encourage wandering of rhinos into unprotected neighbourhoods making them prone to poaching. 

Keywords: browse, Diceros bicornis, feeding station, principal species.

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