Activity Time Budget and Foraging Patterns of Rothschild’s Giraffes (Giraffa Camelopardalis Rothschildi) in Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya
Gitau, Consolata G
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Animal behavioral studies are essential to efficiently manage them and their preferred habitats for the mutual benefit of both. However, very few studies have been conducted on Rothschild’s giraffes’ ethology in Africa, and especially in Kenya. The objective of this study was to assess the seasonal diurnal activity time budget and foraging patterns of free-ranging Rothschild’s giraffes in Lake Nakuru National Park (LNNP), Kenya. The species is under the IUCN Red List, due to a variety of threats and the continued rapid population decline globally. Scan sampling method was used to assess how Rothschild’s giraffes allocate time to various activities of the day. Descriptive data analysis was performed and results presented in bar graphs, and line graphs. Independent t test was performed to compare giraffes’ activities and food preference in different seasons, dry and wet seasons. All statistical tests were considered significant at a 95% confidence limit if type 1 error (alpha) is less than 5% (0.05). Foraging was the principal activity in both dry and wet seasons being allocated 53% and 57% of their time respectively. Resting and movement accounted for 18 and 26%, in dry and wet seasons respectively. Although Vachellia xanthophloea, Maytenus senegalensis, Solanum incanum contributed to the bulk of giraffes’ diet in both seasons, the most preferred woody species was Vachellia xanthophloea in the dry and wet season (67% and 72%) respectively. Other notable plant species that giraffes fed on included Maerua triphylla, Vachellia gerrardii, and Grewia similis during the dry season and Maerua triphylla, Vachellia abyssinica, and Rhus natalensis during the wet season. The most preferred browsing height was about 3.5 meters (level 5) (49% in the dry season and 46% in the wet season) while 1 meter (level 2) was the least preferred (7% in the dry season and 4% in the wet season). At 3 and 3.5 meters (level 4 and 5) giraffes fed on more plant species including Vachellia xanthophloea, Maytenus senegalensis, Maerua triphylla, Vachellia abyssinica, and Rhus natalensis. This study concluded that seasonality does not influence the diurnal activity time budget of Rothschild’s giraffes in LNNP while the hypothesis that Rothschild’s giraffes’ foraging habits vary significantly between the dry and wet seasons was not entirely supported. Giraffes forage and move around when temperatures are low and rest when temperatures are high to conserve energy. The choice of browse species to feed on is an adaptive strategy to survive recurrent droughts, a common occurrence in the study area which is generally Arid and Semi-arid. Giraffes prefer to forage below 4 meters (3.0-3.5), which is within the average body height of an adult giraffe. Planting perennial woody species will promote uniform use of resources in the park, increase the diversity of plant species foraged by giraffes and reduce browsing pressure in acacia woodlands.
university of nairobi
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