Digestive efficiency in two small, wild ruminants: the dik-dik and suni antelopes.
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A comparative study, using six dik-dik and eight suni antelope, was undertaken to identify similarities and differences that may exist in the digestive process of these two small, East African ruminant browsers. The suni antelope was the more select feeder, preferring the native, Grewia sinilis leaves over that of lucerne hay. Daily forage consumption rate, per unity body weight, was greater in the dik-dik (40.4 g/kg) than for the suni (30.6 g/kg), while daily fluid intake was considerably less (i.e. dik-dik, 68 ml/kg versus suni, 106 ml/kg body weight). Rumen fermentation studies suggested that the suni antelope attained the more rapid rumen and caecal fermentation activities, when compared to the dik-dik antelope. The difference in ruminal and caecal digestive process of the two antelope is suggested to be partly the result of the dik-dik's arid-adaptation strategies of less fluid intake and a more diverse (less selective) browse consumption, relative to the suni antelope.