Large Mammal Diversity and the Ecology of African Buffalo (Syncerus caffer caffer Sparrman, 1779) in Dhati Wolel National Park, West Ethiopia

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Addis Ababa University


An investigation of the population status, habitat preference and feeding behavior of the African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) in Dhati Wolel National Park (DhWNP) western Ethiopia was carried out during 2013 ̶ 2014. Assessments of the population status and habitat preferences were conducted within 33 line-transects varying from 3.5 to 5 km in length, spaced throughout the Park using stratified sampling techniques. Direct observations and back-tracking assessments were carried out to study feeding behavior. The present study identified and documented 31 large mammal species in DhWNP. Among these, the globally threatened species such as Lion (Panthera leo), Leopard (Panthera pardus) and Giant forest hog (Hylochoerus meinertzhageni) and the rare species like Orbi (Ourebia ourebi), Reedbuck (Redunca redunca) and Spoted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) were recorded. High population abundance estimate (11294.5±36.005) of African buffalo was recorded. The African buffalo population in Dhati ecosystem showed a positive growth rate (11.7%) during the present study period. Habitat preference analysis showed that S. caffer preferred high elevation areas, dominated by savanna grasslands during the rainy season, while seasonally flooded grassland and permanent swamp of low elevation habitats were preferred during the flood season and late dry season, respectively. Among the forty-five plant species consumed by Syncerus caffer in the present study area, 30 species were Poacae family, while browse species constituted 15. Grass species such as Panicum maximum, Hyparrhenia sp., Cynodon dactylon, Chloris gayana and Pennisetum sp. were the principal forage component of S. caffer during all seasons. Intense anthropogenic activities such as shifting cultivaton, settlement, hunting and overgrazing by domestic cattle were observed in DhWNP. The extensive anthropogenic activities in an area have threatened the biodiversity of the Park and therefore, immediet actions recommended to safeguard such highly demanding ecosystem. Key words/phrases: African buffalo, Dhati Wolel, feeding behavior, habitat analysis, large mammals, population status



African Buffalo, Dhati Wolel, Feeding Behavior, Habitat Analysis, Large Mammals, Population Status