The waterbuck Kobus Ellipsipyrmniss defassa (Ruppel 1835) as an indicator of ecosystem health in the Central Rift Valley Lake Systems of Kenya.
Jumba, Isaac O
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The use of free ranging mammals in monitoring ecosystem health has been suggested (Costanza, Norton & Haskell, 1992). In Lake Nakuru National Park of Kenya, a high frequency of dental abnormalities has been reported in the waterbuck (Foley & Atkinson, 1984). This was attributed to inbreeding and increased homozyg-osity, which led to a higher frequency of genetic abnormalities. It was also noted that waterbuck in the northeastern part were in poorer body condition than in other parts of the park (Kock et al, 1994). Maskall & Thornton (1989) carried out a study of the mineral status of soils in the park, which showed some deficiencies. Because the waterbuck is territorial and has a small feeding range, an environmental factor, amongst others, might also play a role in the poor health status of the antelope in the north-eastern part of the park. The purpose of the present study was to correlate the mineral status of the waterbuck to its health status in lake Nakuru National Park. A comparison was also made with waterbuck around Lakes Elementaita and Naivasha, which are located in the same region. Furthermore the study would be useful in assessing the suitability of Lake Nakuru National Park for rearing endangered species.