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Viljoen, P.J. 1989. Habitat selection and preferred food plants of a desert-dwelling elephant population in the northern Namib Desert, South West Africa/Namibia. African Journal of Ecology, 27(3): 227–240


Description:

The habitat selection and woody food plant preferences of a desert-dwelling elephant population in the extremely arid, northern Namib Desert region of South West Africa/Namibia are discussed.

Summary / Notes:

The river course habitat is clearly the best available habitat and also the only habitat upon which the elephants can depend for long-term survival. Flood plains, however, seem to be the preferred habitat type, but are only available during the wet season. With the exception of the mountains and rocky plains, all the other habitat types are used on an opportunistic, short-term basis only, while the gravel plains are mostly avoided. It is clear that the desert-dwelling elephants have a definite preference for certain woody plant species, irrespective of plant availability or size. Colophospermum mopane Kirk ex Benth, Tamarix usneoides E. Meyer ex Bunge and Combretum imberbe Wanira appear to be the most important woody food plants in terms of forage bulk. The relatively opportunistic habitat selection and unspecialized nature of the diet of these elephants make them well suited to the adversities of their arid environment.

Year: 1989

Type: Journal Article

URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2028.1989.tb01016.x/abstract


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